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Reviews of Stealing by Margaret Verble

Stealing

A Novel

by Margaret Verble

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

    Paperback:
    Feb 2024, 256 pages

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Book Summary

A gripping, gut-punch of a novel about a Cherokee child removed from her family and sent to a Christian boarding school in the 1950s—an ambitious, eye-opening reckoning of history and small-town prejudices from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble.

Since her mother's death, Kit Crockett has lived with her grief-stricken father, spending lonely days far out in the country tending the garden, fishing in a local stream, and reading Nancy Drew mysteries from the library bookmobile. One day when Kit discovers a mysterious and beautiful woman has moved in just down the road, she is intrigued.

Kit and her new neighbor Bella become fast friends. Both outsiders, they take comfort in each other's company. But malice lurks near their quiet bayou and Kit suddenly finds herself at the center of tragic, fatal crime. Soon, Kit is ripped from her home and Cherokee family and sent to Ashley Lordard, a religious boarding school. Along with the other Native students, Kit is stripped of her heritage, force-fed Christian indoctrination, and is sexually abused by the director. But Kit, as strong-willed and shrewd as ever, secretly keeps a journal recounting what she remembers—and revealing just what she has forgotten. Over the course of Stealing, she slowly unravels the truth of how she ended up at the school—and plots a way out.

In swift, sharp, and stunning prose, Margaret Verble spins a powerful coming-of age tale and reaffirms her place as an indelible storyteller and chronicler of history.

1

I thought the cabin was still empty until I saw the red rooster out in the road. He was really flame orange, but people call those roosters red, and he had a big, bright green feather curling over the top of his tail. I had on my sneakers and was walking in a smooth gully the rain had created. So I wasn't kicking gravel or making any kind of noise, and he didn't look up from his pecking until I was close on him. Then, he cocked his head to the side and looked me over, slit-eyed. It was March. I hadn't been down that road since fall. And by the tilt of the rooster's head, it was clear to me he'd been around some time, maybe all winter. He owned that territory, or at least he owned the chicken part of it, and he wasn't going to give ground scared, or even in a huff. He lifted a foot, held it up in a claw for only a second, and then he walked off like he had business in the weeds he'd been meaning to get to all morning. I admired him for that.

Mama always called the cabin "the cabin." ...

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Reviews

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This fascinating novel has a lot to say about morals, ethics, prejudice, religious hypocrisy and more (Sylvia G). It's an excellent story on the importance of family and the effects of religion on a child (Mary A). Stealing is a key theme as Kit reveals the many things that have been taken from her: her heart, her soul, her culture, and her family - and she steals a piece of the reader's heart during the telling...continued

Full Review (878 words)

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Media Reviews

Christian Science Monitor, 10 Best Books of February
Frank and fearless, the novel is a portrait of perseverance.

New York Times Book Review
"This powerful novel should join classics like Ernest J. Gaines's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Helena Maria Viramontes's Under the Feet of Jesus, and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

Kirkus Reviews
Verble upholds her legacy of indelible Cherokee characters—and weaves a dynamic mystery, too.

Publishers Weekly
Verble's skillful storytelling does justice to a harrowing chapter of history.

Reader Reviews

Cathryn Conroy

Brilliant Storytelling! An Emotionally Searing Novel About the Impact of Prejudice and Injustice
This is an exceptional, imaginative, and emotionally searing novel about the dangers of prejudice, the impact of hate, the wounds of injustice, and the small victims whose lives are never the same. Brilliantly written by Pulitzer Prize finalist ...   Read More
Arthur

Stealing
Terrific read. Louis Eldridge fans should love this one.
Sally D. (Jacksonville, FL)

Wonderful story
One of my favorite books in a long time. I am bringing it to my book club next month. I think they will love it.
Sheila B. (Danvers, MA)

Heartbreaking, Maddening, But Most of All Very, Very Sad
WOW. If you have any heart at all, this book will break it into a million pieces. This story is told by a 1950s era Cherokee nine year old girl who is done wrong by every white adult she meets. This is a book for people who like an unreliable ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Cultural Diversity in 15th Century North America

Tribal Nations MapMargaret Verble's novel, Stealing, centers around Kit, a young girl who is part Cherokee. Set in the 1950s, she is removed from her home and sent to a Christian boarding school where a significant portion of the students are Native American. Not only are the indigenous children systematically stripped of their heritage but Kit observes that they are treated as generic "Indians," with no awareness that they come from different nations with differing cultures—an ignorance shared by many people, even today.

Thinking of the pre-Columbian population of North America as a single group is akin to lumping all Europeans into one bucket despite Europe's many and varied histories, languages and geographical regions—an excessively broad...

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