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A Look at the Indian Removal Act - an Editorial Review and Book Launch for "Yellow Bird's Song"


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Book Blurb:

In 1849, mercurial Rollin Ridge leaves his family behind to avoid hanging after avenging his father and grandfather's assassinations.

After his crime, Rollin runs west with his brothers to mine California gold, packing sin and grief in his saddlebags. Through letters home, he finds his justice only after unearthing how the father's sins have followed the son. Within the frame, from 1827-1835, Rollin's parents, Cherokee John Ridge, and his white wife, Sarah, uncover illicit slave running, horse theft, and whiskey dealings across Cherokee territory. To end these inhumane crimes and fight Cherokee removal with President Andrew Jackson, John runs for Principal Chief, opposing the incumbent, Chief John Ross. John and Sarah must decide-fight discrimination and land greed, defy Georgia's violent pressures and remain on his people's ancestral land, or sign a treaty and uproot a nation and their family west.

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Author Bio:

A veteran English teacher and college professor, Heather has spent thirty years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, with an empty nest and time on her hands, she’s writing herself, transcribing voices lost to American history.

Editorial Review:

Once lightning strikes a mighty oak, it often burns the tree to cinders, and its remnants fall to the ground as useless char. With a single touch of God's fingertip, flames consume the pulp, erasing its record of earthly time. Split and frayed limbs sag toward erupting roots, teeming with groundwater steam, hoping to escape the grave and ascend to the Nightland.

If, by happenstance, the tree survives, the cursed oak never grows straight again. During the storm, rainfall baptizes the flames while roots hold fast to deep water. For years after, those spine-like trunks reach beyond their scars, never rising straight, and never as weak as they once were. New sprouts leaf, like a young man’s dreams, and reach the straightest path toward Heaven.

Yellow Bird’s Song takes us back to 1849 near Springfield, Missouri. The lyrical and poetic language draws us in from the start, compelling us to read more and learn this story. Miller grabs the reader's interest right away, establishing the emotional and reflective tone of the story from the opening paragraph.

The first paragraph thrusts the reader into Rollin Ridge's world during a time of crisis, laying the groundwork for the adventure that lies ahead. With this powerful hook, the reader is guaranteed to be interested right away and eager to learn more about the history of Rollin and his family.

The gripping historical fiction book "Yellow Bird's Song" by Heather Miller centers on the life of Rollin Ridge and his family's fight against the growing injustices that the Cherokee people had to deal with during the turbulent early 19th century.

Miller skillfully creates a plot that not only has a rich historical background but also speaks to current issues of justice, family, and identity. It’s a story that is both captivating and instructive through painstaking research and a deep comprehension of the time, making "Yellow Bird's Song" a noteworthy contribution to the genre.

Kell gestured with his smoking hand, pointing the two fingers toward my injured animal. “You mean that gelding?”

“Who made him so?”

“I did and am willing to stand by my deeds with my life.4 Found him in pastureland. Horse bucked and rammed me. Without balls, he’ll settle right down.”

“As a judge, you should know Cherokee don’t own open tribal land. No reason he should be here.”

Judge Kell gripped his porch rail but remained atop its planks on the high ground. Then, his unoccupied, dominant hand recognized his bowie knife’s handle, sheathed, and slung low on his hip. He said, “Can testify to nothing.”

His lies didn’t dampen my resolve. I saw through him. We both knew the real reason I was there. I shouted, “My sister can.”

He leaned against his porch post with carefree nonchalance. “The deaf and dumb sister? I don’t know what that feeble-minded woman could mean.”

I touched the leather strap of Clarinda’s whistle around my neck. “She doesn’t need to speak to witness. She is a medicine woman.” Then I separated my boots, furthering my stance against the inevitable explosion of powder and ball from the iron under my palm.

Kell scoffed. “Then remind me to stay well. That woman’s a witch.”

Wouldn’t be illness that killed him. I couldn’t allow Kell’s wit to move me to fire first, no matter what insults he hurled at my sister. To make justice legal, Kell must first try to take my life, although that didn’t mean I couldn’t provoke the inevitable.

I matched his sarcasm. “Now isn’t the time to insult my family. Come down off that porch. Clarinda and Skili followed you, saw what you did. You’ve cost me far more than future foals. That blade in your grip took my father’s life.”

Through this tense interaction and many others throughout the book, we learn much about the characters, and the plight of the Cherokee nation. Miller is a master of character creation; she creates multifaceted, historically accurate, and approachable characters. Throughout the book, we can watch Rollin Ridge's development from a disturbed young man to a man trying to make sense of his past and plan for the future. It is also admirable how strong and resilient John and Sarah Ridge are shown, emphasizing their commitment to one another and their people in the face of hardship.

The plot of the book is deftly threaded throughout the lives of its characters, with Rollin Ridge's transformation from a young man filled with resentment to a person in search of forgiveness and understanding serving as the central theme.

In addition to providing depth and historical relevance, the parallel plot of Rollin's parents, Cherokee John Ridge and his wife, Sarah, explores the larger problems of Cherokee removal as well as the internal strife within the Cherokee nation. Miller skillfully strikes a balance between these stories so that the reader is both informed about the historical background and engrossed in the protagonists' personal concerns.

On the shores of the Potomac River, I sought escape from Jackson’s words. But in their place, my doubt lingered. Had I become what I hated, like dishonest McIntosh bargaining with land he had no power to sell? It was entirely possible I would die because I considered changing my mind. I knelt by the bank and removed my glove, hoping the water’s icy numbness would wash such thoughts away.

River branches travel from the same source, flowing north to south. Through its travels, it bends, above and below ground, and never stops. Would that I could follow at such speed. Make my way home in days instead of the long month aboard steamboat and coach. I yearned to return to its peace.

Yellow Bird’s Song is well written, carefully edited, and free of typos or grammatical mistakes that may pull you out of the story. Instead, we get a smooth and flawless reading experience. Each chapter flows into the next without interruption and the story arc is also just as smooth and carefully crafted.

Another positive feature of Yellow Bird’s Song is the uniqueness of the story. While 19th-century historical fiction is not unusual, this one stands out for its examination of the difficulties of identity, justice, and family as well as its emphasis on the Cherokee perspective.

The novel is a distinctive addition to the genre because of Miller's skill in fusing together intimate stories with more significant historical moments. Miller's skill as a writer is apparent in the richness of her characters' emotions, the dialogue she crafts, and the vivid imagery she provides.

Another asset to the story is the continuity throughout the novel. The plot of the book stays consistent, as does its relationship to historical events. Because of Miller's meticulous planning, the story develops logically and is told as a whole, with each occurrence building on the previous one. The story's fictitious components have a strong foundation thanks to the accurate representation of historical events and personalities.

It all ends with a satisfying conclusion. The ending of "Yellow Bird's Song" is both gratifying and thought-provoking. Miller successfully brings the several narratives together in a way that is authentic to the characters and the historical setting. In addition to providing a sense of closure, the novel's ending invites readers to consider the ideas and problems brought up throughout. It’s a story that will remain with you long after you put the book down.

"Yellow Bird's Song" is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction as well as anybody curious about the history of the Cherokee people and their tenacity in the face of injustice.


“Yellow Bird's Song” by Heather Miller receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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