I recently agreed to read an advance galley proof for Stealing, a new historical novel by author Margaret Verble, and then publish a short book review. Overall, I found the book to be enjoyable on many levels. However, I particularly enjoyed the easy-flowing exchange of dialog and narrative that gradually unveiled multiple layers of this story.
The main storyteller is known as “Kit” and she starts us on that journey as a young girl, eagerly living a mostly carefree life of the times. While her mother has died, her father provides for her as a typical working father in the 1950s would have—with all his soul but not a lot of personal involvement or emotional support. Kit wanders, fishes, daydreams, and overthinks as any child will when left on their own, and after a new resident moves in nearby, a natural curiosity leads her to investigate and meet the neighbor. Sadly, when actions are misconstrued and rumors are spread, Kit is forced to see that a larger world view exists—and has existed for her Native American family over many, many years.
The author’s use of flashback and current happenings might ordinarily be confusing, but Verble leads us flawlessly and knowingly back and forth between the two, revealing a back story that slowly illuminates Kit’s current situation.
I would recommend this novel to advanced YA readers, to followers of historical fiction (though I haven’t been able to pinpoint to what degree the book is actually “historical”), and to those interested in remembering how family and community life in the middle of our last century was for many of us.
Get yourself a copy!
If you liked this short book review of Stealing by Margaret Verble, I invite you to buy a copy for yourself through the-freelance-editor’s online bookstore. If you need more convincing than I’ve done in this post, take a look at some of these independent reviews:
- with a synopsis, at Strong Nations Publishing
- with a brief plot description, at Publishers Weekly
- with several review excerpts, provided at the author’s website, MargaretVerble.com
And, read on . . .
While the American Indian culture and setting of Stealing are not major parts of the story (in my opinion), Kit’s family has had to endure hateful attitudes and attacks over the years. In addition, when Kit is forceably sent to the fictional Ashley Lordard “Christian” boarding school, she discovers a whole new kind of discrimination toward indigenous people. Below are a few historical fiction books for young-adult readers that focus more on the trauma of residential boarding schools for American Indians:
- I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis (whose grandmother’s story is featured in this Canadian story) and Kathy Kacer
- As Long as the Rivers Flow, by Larry Loyie (who provides this first-person account of the summer he and his siblings were taken away) and Constance Brissenden. These authors also wrote a sequel, Goodbye Buffalo Bay, as well as When the Spirits Dance, a separate story about living without Loyie’s father when he left the family to fight with the Canadian army during World War II.
- My Name is Seepeetza, a memoir in diary format that is based on the childhood experiences of author Shirley Sterling
- Sweetgrass Basket, by Marlene Carvell
- Fatty Legs: A True Story, with memories from Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton as told to her daughter-in-law Christy Jordan-Fenton
Please check out our other titles as you have time (the online shop is always open), and see what catches your attention—and imagination.
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originally posted January 8, 2023;
no text revisions to date
image information: Featured image used via Google search and Goodreads.com
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