Occasionally I have reason to read authors I’m not normally interested in because their books show up in my mailbox at work. I read the books, fill out a review form for the publisher, and the library gets to keep the book for our collection. Cherokee Rose, by Al and JoAnna Lacy, falls into this category.
Al and JoAnna Lacy have established names in the Christian historical fiction market and command their own following. After reading this book, I can’t say that I’m a new member of that following. In all fairness, the authors certainly pack a lot of information in a book that weighs in at just under 300 pages, but therein also lies the weakness.
Cherokee Rose, the first in a new series, tells the story of the Trail of Tears, starting back before the event with the birth of some key historical characters, and follows them and some fictional characters through the early events that eventually started the exodus to the end of the trail. The story is told almost entirely from the point of view of the Cherokees. Despite being the focus of the book’s back cover blurb and the title character, Cherokee Rose, does not show up until part way through the book.
Cherokee Rose struggles through the injustices perpetrated on her people during the journey west and develops an interest in one of the soldiers escorting them because of his kindness to her people and because he is also a Christian. The gospel is shared plainly throughout the book, as well as an acceptance of the trials Christians are to endure. Faith is not a minor element in this story.
However, the story is handicapped by the authors’ attempts to fit too much into too little space. The plot and emotional intensity suffer from too much telling without enough showing, limited character development, and language that feels almost stilted at times. The amount of time and material covered could have easily been fit into more than one book. In all honesty I would have had little motivation to finish the book if I hadn’t had an obligation to do so. Perhaps the second book might be an improvement when it is released.
Readers who demand little from their books and who are interested in learning about the Trail of Tears from a novel rather than a history book might find this book enjoyable. I would recommend borrowing it from your library, though, instead of buying it.