In her debut novel Crooked Hallelujah, Kelli Jo Ford follows the lives of four generations Cherokee women seeking a safe place amidst their faith-based convictions, class, and nation, and dysfunctional families. Set in the 1970s and 1970s, proud and stubborn characters like Lula and her mother (Granny), daughter Justine (in the first part of the book a teenager herself, in the second part mother of Reney), and granddaughter looking back on past certainties and the unsure present.
The writing style however seriously needs attention. Disjoint chapters, the introduction of new characters without rationale or clear position in the context, and the very different nature of the third part, in which statements replace the narrative, confused me very often. I went on reading, although I could easily put this book aside. On various occasions, I really had no clue what I just had read.
About the author
These days, Kelli Jo Ford lives in Virginia with her husband (and poet extraordinaire) Scott Weaver, daughter Cypress, and dog Sylvia Plath Weaver-Ford. “Hybrid Vigor,” a story from Crooked Hallelujah, won The Paris Review’s 2019 Plimpton Prize, and the manuscript for Crooked Hallelujah won the University of Central Oklahoma’s 2019 Everett Southwest Literary Award. She has been awarded a National Artist Fellowship by the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, an Elizabeth George Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and a Katharine Bakeless Nason Award in Fiction by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In 2016, she served as the Indigenous Writer-in-Residence at School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. She received an MFA from George Mason University.
She has work published or forthcoming in The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, and Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, among other places. she’s a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and she’s pretty stoked to say that she’s represented by Adam Eaglin at The Cheney Agency.
I received a free review copy through Netgalley in exchange for my personal, unbiased impressions upon reading.