The author’s desire to keep to cultural accuracy is understandable. Still, readers may wish Verble, herself a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, had used authorial discretion and given Check enough agency to drive the plot rather than sideline her as a frustrated observer. But Verble’s decision to stay true to Cherokee history ultimately pays off. Viewed as a cultural and character study, Cherokee America sings ... Cherokee America is an essential corrective to the racially tinged myths created to justify the annihilation of indigenous cultures and the theft of native lands ... You’re invested in [the characters], their culture, their life. Verble has given historical fiction lovers a real gift: Cherokee America is an excellent illustration of how diverse books enrich literature, and the minds of those who read them.
Meanders quite a bit due to its impressive cast and multiple storylines, taking its time to explore each’s feelings and tribulations, but Verble keeps Check at its grounded center. Readers shouldn’t expect to fly through these pages at breakneck speed, but rather enjoy a more leisurely pace that will leave them wholly immersed in Check’s world.
Not easy and not fun – but Verble makes the reading of her characters’ life stories extremely compelling ... If you have a hard time telling your narrators apart then this isn’t the novel for you; and even if you don’t, you will refer and keep referring to the character listing in the front of the novel for at least the first half of it as more and more characters are thrown into play ... Culture, customs, and how they mutate and shape-shift due to social or cultural changes, provide an interesting backbone for the novel ... One of Cherokee America’s problems is that it has so many characters; dozens are introduced within the first hundred pages and it’s impossible to ascertain who’s the most important to the plot until the rhythm of the story sets in, so it’s a lot of information for the reader to carry around and retain until that happens. Also, the book absolutely suffers from taking a while to give Puny and Lizzie voices that are non-stereotypical during the first quarter of the story ... a powerful, sometimes heartbreaking journey through the American West. Sometimes it suffers from the scope of its ambition, but in the end it’s a beautiful and worthwhile story to dig into.