Read advance reader review of Stealing by Margaret Verble, page 3 of 3

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A Novel

by Margaret Verble

Stealing by Margaret Verble X
Stealing by Margaret Verble
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  • Published:
    Feb 2023, 256 pages


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  • Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)
    Will steal your heart
    Told in the voice of a young Native American girl, this strong and compelling novel has a lot to say about morals, ethics, prejudice, religious hypocrisy and more. It's a wonderful read with an extremely sympathetic heroine. Loved it.
  • Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)
    This was an excellent book. I was drawn in from the very first page. The story is written in the style of a young Indian girl writing in her journal. She tells of events in her life...being taken away from her family, being put in a boarding school, dealing with abuse..., and even though it is told from a child's point of view, the storytelling speaks in a very adult way about very serious and disturbing matters.

    I couldn't put the book down. It was a quick read, and the main character, Kit, is very likable. I wanted to find out what happened next. The book is written in an out of sequence manner, but that helps to add to the plot. I highly recommend this book.
  • Emily C. (Naples, FL)
    A Harrowing Chapter in American History
    Margaret Verble, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has written a gut-wrenching novel that reveals the ugly side of Native American Boarding Schools in the 1950's.

    According to The National Native American Boarding School Coalition, between 1869 and the 1960's, hundreds of Native American children in the United States were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in boarding schools operated by the federal government and the churches.

    Kit Crockett, the protagonist in this well written novel, is placed in a boarding school somewhere along the Arkansas River after the death of her mother in the 1950's.

    Kit, an outsider in the community, and her neighbor friend Bella, also an outsider, are accused of "improper" behavior, leading to the decision by community leaders, to remove her from her Father's care and send her to the boarding school. When Kit protests to Judge Prescott, who is in charge of her case, he tells her that "Right is hard to determine. Rev. Cunningham (a villain in the novel) believes that you getting a good Christian upbringing is the right thing to do...about ninety percent of the people in this town believe that, too." And with that decision, Kit's young years are "stolen" from her and she is placed in the boarding school as a ward of the state.

    It is here that she and the other students are punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional or cultural practices, and stripped of traditional clothing, hair, and other personal belongings and behaviors of their culture. During this time she is sexually abused by the Director of the school.

    In reviewing a secret journal that she had kept, Kit discovers truths about her life that even she had forgotten. Using this journal, Kit sees her life as a "jigsaw puzzle" and she slowly figures out how and why she eventually found herself in this boarding school. With each piece of her personal "puzzle", she realizes that her life, her family relationships, and her emotional, cultural, and spiritual being have been stolen from her along the way. The concept of "stealing" is woven throughout the story.

    This heartbreaking novel has several intensely emotional scenes and the complex characters reach through the pages and tug at the reader's heart.

    Margaret Verble said in an interview: "Writing historical fiction is a process of merging the facts with the imagination." The same is true of Kit's life, as she uses her journal to sift out the truth from the imaginings of her life.

    This is a powerful novel that will stay with the reader for a longtime after the last page has been read. I was emotionally exhausted after experiencing Kit's sad life through this coming of age novel.
  • Debbie C. (Sun Lakes, AZ)
    A brave little girl who survived despite odds
    When I started reading this, it was slow. As the story unfolded, I had a hard time putting it down. A little girl with the odds against her, she stayed true to herself and was willing to fight for herself and what was right. I wish the ending was different but it left it open for another adventure to read.
  • William D. (Hudson, NH)
    Stealing Margaret Verble
    A wonderful piece of historical fiction told in the first-person format—unveils the strong and determinative voice of a nine-year-old little girl named Kit, a native American, the daughter of a Cherokee mother and a white father. Kit endures a number of tragedies: the death of her mother, the violent death of her uncle, the deceit and abuse levied by her guardian the "praise the lord" preacher, the sexual abuse administered by school's headmaster, the murder of her friend and the trial and conviction of her father. She employs her Nancy Drew mysteries, her cherished inanimate friend—a statue of a frontiersman—a wood carving crafted with love and given to by her father, her friends, uncles, aunts, neighbors and her imagination to help her navigate through the abyss of misinformation, withheld information, and blatant lies.
    The story line is a bit choppy — the jumping from the past to the present and back again is a bit unnerving. The "Trail of Tears" is referenced but the narrative regarding this event has not been expanded. Also, more on the Christianization of native Americans, in particular the Cherokee, may enhance the human element to the story. For these reasons I give a 3 ½ star rating.
  • Barbette T. (Virginia Beach, VA)
    Solving the Puzzle
    "I didn't know what that meant but was afraid to ask," states Kit, a nine year-old half Indian girl. Life is confusing to a child, especially one from whom adults keep relevant information. Gradually Kit uncovers the truth, confirming the readers' fears. Motherless, then fatherless, for Kit life is a puzzle that no one helps her solve. But thanks to her resilience, the words of her grandmother, and the comfort of the frontiersman, a symbol of protection carved by her father, she gathers and regathers her strength.

    Cherokee Indian culture is interwoven with the adult white world which is mostly portrayed as cold and hypocritical, especially the church people whose smiles really mean "Do what I say or I'll make you sorry." Kit learns to be wary and often retreats to Never Never Land or her safe place at the boarding school, her closet.

    The novel is a realistic look at the fears and bewilderment of an innocent child who must draw her own conclusions about whom to trust and what happened to her friend Bella and her father. A negative aspect of the book is that no one asks her if the "crime" actually occurred, which could have prevented further tragedy.
  • Maribeth R. (Indianapolis, IN)
    Another Amazing Child Narrator
    If you relish reading atmospheric tales near the Bayou, and if you love hearing the voice of a thoughtful and precocious child, you will enjoy reading Margaret Verble's latest novel, Stealing.

    Kit Crockett, a child of Cherokee origins, develops a warm friendship with a female neighbor after the death of Kit's mother. The actions of a second neighbor, a snoop and troublemaker, result in a devastating event which further changes Kit's life. After being emotionally abused by local do-gooders, Kit endures further trauma at the hands of the administrator of the institution she is sent to by the court.

    Kit is a resilient and resourceful soul, and you will root for her all the way. The main story of the initial trauma in the neighborhood will capture you and keep you reading.

    Less satisfying is the story of Kit's time in institutional care. The book's chapters often weave back and forth in the telling of the two stories, and the transitions sometimes feel awkward. I also believe the description of the book found on the cover likely over-emphasizes the importance the book will place on the plight of Indian children in institutions during the last century. In reading this description, I assumed much more would be done to describe the tragedy these children endured as well as the eventual resolution of the situation. However, the book's outcome doesn't seem to do ample justice to the telling of this black mark on America's child welfare system. For these reasons, the book I wanted to rate 5, will have to settle for a 4. I would, however, highly recommend the book to other readers.
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