Set to be released in February, Stealing, a novel by Margaret Verble is an ambitious, eye-opening reckoning of history and small-town prejudices of the 1950s. Stealing follows a Cherokee child removed from her family and sent to a Christian boarding school. The gripping, gut-punch of a novel blends a classic story of the failure of the *American justice system with complex and painful Native history.
Here’s a synopsis of the story. Since her mother’s death, Kit Crockett has lived with her grief-stricken father, spending lonely days far out in the country tending the garden, fishing the backwaters of the Arkansas River, and reading Nancy Drew mysteries from the library bookmobile. One day when Kit discovers a mysterious and beautiful woman has moved in just down the road, she is intrigued.
Kit and the newcomer, Bella, become friends and the lonely Kit draws comfort from her. But when a malicious neighbor finds out, Kit suddenly finds herself at the center of a tragic, fatal crime and becomes a ward of the court. Her Cherokee family wants to raise her, but the righteous Christians in town send her to a religious boarding school. Kit is stripped of her heritage and is subjected to indoctrination and other forms of abuse. But Kit secretly keeps a journal recounting what she remembers—and revealing just what she has forgotten. Over the course of Stealing, she unravels the truth of how she ended up at the school and plots a way out. If only she can make her plan work in time.
*The fate of the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law aimed at preventing Native children from being separated from their extended families and their tribes is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. The ruling could have far-reaching implications that undermine tribal sovereignty.
Margaret Verble is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a member of a large Cherokee family that has, through generations, made many contributions to the tribe’s history and survival. Margaret was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Many of her family have remained in Oklahoma to this day, and some still own and farm the land on which two of her books are set. Her heritage and personal connection to the natural environment of the American heartland has informed her writing.