... more than promising ... Kelli Jo Ford summons the details of minimum-wage life in the last quarter of the 20th century. She does this without cluttering her spare sentences, which is why her details resonate ... This is a novel in stories, a dread form in the wrong hands. The point of view shifts, vertiginously, from one chapter to the next, as if you are watching a heist from multiple security cameras. But Crooked Hallelujah has a supple cohesiveness ... As a writer, 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 ... has an elegiac rather than a comic tone. Yet when I combed back through my notes, I realized that so many moments had made me smile ... Ford’s novel finds its center of gravity at the intimate human level.
... [a] masterpiece ... Even through its harsh circumstances and looming disappointments, Crooked Hallelujah/ maintains a sense of hope, centering the women as sources of light in the tiny communities where they land. Its closing scenes are overt in their biblical tie-ins, but also so consistent with what precedes them that they force rear-gazing considerations: was the divine present in every event of the women’s lives after all? Or was it their fierce, life-giving love for one another that most warranted emulation and awe? ... Its events like psalms for mother-daughter bonds, Kelli Jo Ford’s novel celebrates bold, everyday acts of enduring love.
Kelli Jo Ford takes her readers on a compelling journey through the evolving terrain of multiple generations of women ... Ford unfolds Justine’s story without passing judgment, which is one of the great strengths of Crooked Hallelujah; she writes close to her characters, the narrative stripping away explanations, allowing readers to feel real involvement in the action ... Ford’s connection to her characters shines through the writing, infusing these voices with a sweet, sidelong zing ... This language is rich but never dense. There’s a lightness to the perspective which shifts and bends, prismed by a matrilineal succession of Cherokee and mixed-race women ... while there is great pain, there’s also great compassion and generosity toward these characters ... we are fortunate readers to be taken along on her remarkable journey.