By: Regina McLemore
Publisher: Fife Press
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: November 16, 2022
Award-winning Regina McLemore delivers an engaging story in book number three (Cherokee Steel) of her Cherokee Passages series.
Young love is in bloom between fifteen-year-old Bonita McKindle and Ross Stone. Bonita is a good girl. She loves school, studies hard, respects her ‘Granny’ and while she is drawn to Ross, infatuation is as far as she is going to go, for now. Ross on the other hand, has other designs. He’s drawn to Bonita and his intentions run deeper than doing their favorite new dance, the jitterbug. He’s persuasive and persistent and knows all the right buttons to push Bonita in the direction he wants to go. Mr. Maxwell is the Principal of Jubilee High School and is completely intolerant of any shenanigans. When the bell rings for class and he catches Ross’ arms wrapped around Bonita, strike three is about to come raining down on Ross.
Too bad Mr. Maxwell wasn’t Bonita’s only problem. Her mother was gone, her brother Sid was a drinker and not only was her father Anderson’s health failing, but he liked his drink a bit too much as well. Bonita’s life outside of school was demanding at best. She took care of the house and was constantly monitoring Sid’s moves to make sure he didn’t convince Anderson to join him in his latest drinking binge. Tonight was Bonita’s turn for some fun. Ross invited her to a party at his home and she couldn’t wait. After convincing her brother Sid to drive her, by the time they arrive, she could hear the party was already in full swing. Amelia and Michael Stone (Ross’ parents) have a grand two-story farmhouse. The walls are adorned with generations of family photos from the mid-1800’s through the 1930’s. Susan Stone, Ross’ sister and Tommy Swimmer are newly married and have delivered the first grand baby. When Laverne Stone approaches Bonita, and insists on teaching her some new steps, Bonita is wondering where Ross is. She spends most of the night dancing with everyone but Ross. The night is winding down and it’s time for Bonita to leave and still, no Ross. Imagine her surprise when she’s about to depart and Bonita learns that Laverne isn’t really Laverne and for that matter, not even a girl!
Ms. McLemore has artfully layered a series of characters and plots throughout her storyline and while this read is engaging, there is a lot happening from one event to another. I decided to focus on Bonita and Ross as they truly are the anchor that connects the ongoing introductions of new characters and the foundational thread that runs throughout the read. Ms. McLemore does an admirable job of painting the diverse personalities of Bonita and Ross; Bonita being the good girl that has set her sights on finishing school and making a life for herself, and Ross is the bad boy that comes from a slightly privileged home and therefore pushes the envelope knowing he will not suffer egregious consequences for his misbehaviors. The subtle malcontent displayed by Amelia (Ross’ mother) the night of the party is a terrific seed the author plants that will grow into a strong theme as the story unfolds. The dialogue is strong and believable and the traditional beliefs and practices of the Cherokee Nation that ‘Granny’ imparts throughout the story are wonderful nuggets the author infuses in all the right places: "...Why are you shootin’ at them birds? They ain’t botherin’ nobody." Granny waived her arms and shouted, "Get out of here now, you old Raven Mockers." ...pulling a blanket over her flannel night gown, Bonita walked out of her room and to the front porch. "What in the world is a Raven Mocker?" "...It’s one of the Cherokee death birds. If a Raven Mocker comes to your house, someone nearby is goin’ to die."
Quill says: Cherokee Steel is steeped in Cherokee tradition and folklore and has a storyline that makes turning the pages effortless.
For more information on Cherokee Steel (Cherokee Passages, Book 3), please visit the author's website at: www.reginamclemore.com