Thursday, April 28, 2016

Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy
(2014, Brilliance Audio)
Read by Bahni Turpin and JD Jackson

This title is a nominee in the 2016 Audie Awards: Fiction Category
From Goodreads"Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money--but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward?
Cow Tom's legacy lives on--especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather's indelible mark of courage inspires her--in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies." 

Citizens Creek, based on the actual lives of protagonists Cow Tom and his granddaughter Rose, captures the essence of the curse, “May you live in interesting times.” We hit the ground running with slavery, forced relocation, disease epidemics, land grabs, and wars. Throughout, Cow Tom does his best to make circumstances livable for his loved ones and himself, even as he struggles with external and internal demons.

Bahni Turpin and JD Jackson are both strong narrators. Jackson’s voice, in the Cow Tom section, has more of a history teacher vibe than I’d like, but his timbre is lovely and he conveys Cow Tom’s dejection, frustration, and determination with nuanced grace. Turpin brings Rose to life, exhibiting a narrative omniscience about bad decisions or trouble coming that adds to the tension of those scenes.

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