Best Young Adult Novel, American Indian Library Association
A Choctaw tale of tragedy, good and evil, revenge and ultimately forgiveness, laced with healing Choctaw humor and a little magical realism thrown in.
"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville."
Thus begins Rose Goode's story of growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson of New Hope Academy for Girls in 1896. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She was blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways.
Soon after the fire, the White sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unfolds this tale of mystery, Indigenous magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice.
Tim Tingle—a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality—tells Rose's story of good and evil with a local perspective and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.