Summary and book reviews of Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

Crooked Hallelujah

by Kelli Jo Ford

Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford X
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 20, 2021, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

It's 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fifteen-year-old Justine grows up in a family of tough, complicated, and loyal women presided over by her mother, Lula, and Granny.

After Justine's father abandoned the family, Lula became a devout member of the Holiness Church – a community that Justine at times finds stifling and terrifying. But Justine does her best as a devoted daughter until an act of violence sends her on a different path forever.

Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine―a mixed-blood Cherokee woman― and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma's Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. However, life in Texas isn't easy, and Reney feels unmoored from her family in Indian Country. Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world―of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces, like wildfires and tornados―intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home.

In lush and empathic prose, Kelli Jo Ford depicts what this family of proud, stubborn, Cherokee women sacrifices for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. This is a big-hearted and ambitious novel of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters by an exquisite and rare new talent.

PART I


Beulah Springs,
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
1974

Book of the Generations
1.

When Lula stepped into the yard, the stray cat Justine held took off so fast it scratched her and sent the porch swing sideways. Justine had been feeding the stray, hoping to find its litter of kittens in spite of her mother's disdain for extra mouths or creatures prone to parasites. She tried to smooth cat hair from her lap. She'd wanted everything to be perfect when she told her mom that she'd tracked down her father in Texas and used the neighbor's phone to call him.

"That thing's going to give you worms." Lula dropped her purse onto the porch. She hadn't been able to catch a ride from work. With a deep sigh, she untucked her blouse and undid the long green polyester skirt she'd started sewing as soon as she'd seen the help wanted sign at the insurance office. She was a secretary now, and as she liked to tell Justine, people called her Mrs. and complimented her handwriting.

"I'll wash up," Justine...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Though Crooked Hallelujah opens with radiant confidence and pushes through to a generous and satisfying ending, it suffers in between from a common pitfall of the novel-in-stories format: It sometimes adheres to a strong narrative arc, but at other times wanders too far from its central concerns. Despite this, all the various parts of the novel are infused with a similar urgent mood that suggests the inner arrangement of a person's self has a crucial effect on the external world around them. Ford offers readers a memorable glimpse of her characters' lives, making the journey through their stories abundantly worthwhile...continued

Full Review Members Only (802 words).

(Reviewed by Elisabeth Cook).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Crooked Hallelujah has a supple cohesiveness...Ford is quietist. Her book reads like a series of acoustic songs recorded on a single microphone in a bare room with a carpet. There are times when you might wish for more boldness, but she never puts a wrong foot. This is a writer who carefully husbands her resources. Small scenes begin to glitter.

Shelf Awareness
[A] magnificent debut...Ford adroitly, affectingly weaves indigenous history into her spellbinding narrative, exposing displacement, unacknowledged violence, cultural erasure, relentless racism and socioeconomic disparity.

Buzzfeed
Ford's Crooked Hallelujah is more than just a really great title; it's the book that's going to be taught in creative writing programs for decades to come...What else can you say about a writer who won the prestigious Plimpton Prize and was published in the Paris Review right out of the gate? Nothing beyond '"ake my money."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] gritty, elegant debut novel...Ford's storytelling is urgent, her characters achingly human and complex, and her language glittering and rugged.

Booklist (starred review)
Electrifying...A riveting and important read.

Author Blurb Brandon Hobson, 2018 National Book Award Finalist and author of Where the Dead Sit Talking
Kelli Jo Ford's Crooked Hallelujah masterfully evokes loss and displacement, steeped in Native American culture, rife with compassion and deep understanding. Kelli Jo Ford is a powerful new Native American writer who writes beautifully with stunning prose! She is brilliant, and I can't wait for people to read her amazing book.

Author Blurb David Treuer
Crooked Hallelujah is an intricate, soulful look at three generations of Cherokee women pushed (in Philip Larkin's phrase) to the side of their own lives. At turns gripping and moving, Kelli Jo Ford's characters and the Oklahoma and Texas landscape take center stage in a truly modern drama. Ford sidesteps the easy tropes of spirituality and connection to nature and has created a modern masterpiece peopled with complex, fully-realized characters. A huge achievement.

Author Blurb Leila Aboulela
Startling close-ups of the sticky relationship between mothers and daughters, between body and nature, between childhood certainties and adult skepticism. Kelli Jo Ford's writing is heartfelt and brimming with talent. This is a stunning, awe-inspiring debut.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Six Flags Amusement Parks

Batman roller coaster at Six Flags In Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford, Justine dreams of riding the Big Bend roller coaster at Six Flags. Today, Six Flags is a large theme park company with locations throughout North America and also in China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Justine, who is living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1974, is anticipating a visit to the original park that spawned the conglomerate, Six Flags Over Texas.

Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 in Arlington, Texas. It required more than a year to build and cost $10 million (which translates to about $85 million today). The idea for the park came from a real estate developer named August Wynne. Initially, Wynne intended for the theme park to be a temporary way to profit from ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Crooked Hallelujah, try these:

  • Dog Flowers jacket

    Dog Flowers

    by Danielle Geller

    Published 2021

    About this book

    A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to retrace her mother's life in a memoir that is both a narrative and an archive of one family's troubled history.

  • Transcendent Kingdom jacket

    Transcendent Kingdom

    by Yaa Gyasi

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Dutch House
    by Ann Patchett

    The Dutch House is my introduction to Ann Patchett, which, after reading it, surprises me. I had ...

  • Book Jacket: Nights When Nothing Happened
    Nights When Nothing Happened
    by Simon Han
    A quiet atmosphere of dread permeates Simon Han's subdued debut novel Nights When Nothing Happened. ...
  • Book Jacket: Take It Back
    Take It Back
    by Kia Abdullah
    In Kia Abdullah's novel Take It Back, sexual violence advisor Zara Kaleel becomes involved in a case...
  • Book Jacket: Dark, Salt, Clear
    Dark, Salt, Clear
    by Lamorna Ash
    Named after Lamorna Cove in her mother's rural home county of Cornwall (located in southwestern ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
    by Marie Benedict

    The real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie is perhaps her greatest mystery of all.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Prophets
    by Robert Jones Jr.

    A stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Waiting for the Night Song
by Julie Carrick Dalton
A startling and timely debut about friendships forged in childhood and ruptured by the high price of secrets.
Win This Book!
Win The House on Vesper Sands

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell

Introducing a detective duo for the ages who unlock the secrets of a startling Victorian mystery.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T T T Light F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.