“The Removed” by Brandon Hobson was a unique novel. It is part literary fiction, but also part fantasy with a mix of Cherokee mythology and magical realism thrown in. This is the story of a family of the victim of a police shooting and murder of a Native American boy, and then how the family must go on living in the years that follow.
The style of the novel is a first person narrative of each family member and how they are living years later. The stories they tell revolve somewhat around the loss of their son, brother, Ray-Ray, and the annual bonfire they hold in remembrance of his death on September 6, the Cherokee National Holiday, a day marking the signing of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation on September 6, 1839 after the ending of the Trail of Tears. Their own personal struggles, Ernest, Ray-Ray’s father is struggling with Alzheimer’s, Sonja, Ray-Ray’s sister has developed an unhealthy obsession with an abusive local musician, Vin, Edgar, Ray-Ray’s brother is struggling with a drug addiction and attempts suicide, and Ray-Ray’s mother, Maria is struggling to forgive the police officer who took away her son and hold the family together.
Cherokee mythology is worked into the novel throughout and within each person’s story a touch of mystery looms in the place between reality and fantasy, in each person’s mind and imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed both the story portrayed and Hobson’s delivery. Overall, it was an excellent read.