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The Removed by Brandon Hobson
Contemporary fiction

The Removed

Early Release
This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait 'til next month to read it.

by Brandon Hobson

Quick take

Resonant, lyrical, otherworldly. A genre-bending look at the tragedies and legacies that impact one Cherokee family.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Supernatural


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad


  • Illustrated icon, Literary


Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator


This book contains some mentions and descriptions of violence that some readers may find upsetting.

Why I love it

Alexandra Chang
Author, Days of Distraction

One of my favorite reading experiences is the feeling of spending time with characters who speak to me as friends, as family, as intimates. Brandon Hobson has created a beautiful novel about a Cherokee family and their ancestors that does just that—these characters' voices are so alive with their particular struggles, fears, hurts, and hopes, that each stayed with me long after reading the last page.

The Echota family has lost middle child Ray-Ray to a police shooting. The novel follows the family fifteen years later, as each member continues to reckon with the tragedy and the grief that ensues. Ray-Ray's mother Maria is searching for strength to survive and to forgive and to manage another loss—her husband Ernest's memory to Alzheimer's. The youngest son Edgar turns to drugs and finds himself in a world between life and death. And Sonja, the oldest daughter, becomes entwined with a younger man connected with her family's past. We hear, too, from Tsala, an ancestor who tells us stories from Cherokee myth and history, blurring the boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Brandon Hobson writes with incredible emotional precision, intimacy, and wisdom. Yes, The Removed is a book about loss, but it is also a book about the powers of hope and healing and home. I fell in love with the Echota family, and I'm sure you will, too.

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In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer’s in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.

With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest’s mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite—or perhaps because of—his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Removed.

Member thoughts

All (8741)
All (8741)
Love (1678)
Like (4621)
Dislike (2442)
8936 ratings
  • 19% Love
  • 52% Like
  • 27% Dislike
  • Scottsdale, AZ

    In a good way, felt like a dream verging on a’s dim, you feel lost, not sure what you’re looking for, but there is a spark of hope/light and any moment you’ll remember what you need.

  • North Mankato, MN

    This book moved me. It’s a haunting mix of magical realism, Cherokee folklore and history, and a family’s story of loss, grief, and presence after the death of their beloved brother and son, Ray-Ray.

  • Stoughton, WI

    I love Native American Spirituality and the story weaves patterns of grief, deep loss and the Trail of Tears through one family. It is well done. Yûñwï Tsunsdi e are the kind, helpers and healers.

  • Laurel Hill , NC

    Life after losing a loved one! Looking for a sign; anything to help fill the open wound. A sound; a familiar creature in nature, a similar trait in personality. After a loss, we find comfort in these.

  • Milford, MA

    The loss of Ray-Ray-was so tragic, it circles back to this family's ancestral roots of the Cherokees-through his brother Edgar's addiction to drugs-he was saved. History re Trail of Tears is so sad:(

  • Saint George, UT

    The Echota family are each broken a little by the death of their brother and son, Ray-Ray. Each year they gather to remember their dead and try to re-connect. The Cherokee spirits plan to attend too.

  • West Hollywood, CA

    A haunting story that beautifully captures the spirit of Haruki Murakami but woven with the spirit of Native American stories. Stories of the Native Americans should be more widely-read. I loved it!!!

  • Walhalla, SC

    This is a slow burn examination of grief, time, identity, death, & much more, written in simple prose that finds a way to be poetic. Readers not seeking reflection & introspection should not attempt.

  • Hudson , FL

    What a beautiful novel. Native American magical realism, yes please. Portrayal of the pain and suffering by ancestors and the ensuing shadow woven around subsequent generation. Heart wrenching. ????

  • Santa Fe, NM

    This book shows the impact of a cop murder on one family, plus the generational wounds leading back to the white occupation and relocation of Cherokee people in the Trail of Tears. Hrtbreaking/pwrf!

  • Greenwood Village, CO

    Haunting, intimate, and poetic. This book is so simple yet profound in execution. It’s wildly complex, rich and poignant. The storytelling is vivid and the cultural beauty oozes out of every page.

  • Louisville, KY

    Explores the grief of a Cherokee family after the shooting death of their son/brother by a cop. Has folklore, legends, ambiguous ending. Slower paced book, has depth. Love the folklore-made me think.

  • Anchorage, AK

    In a book that challenges the distance between past and present, ancestors and descendants, the living and the dead, Hobson heartbreakingly depicts a family balancing vengeance, grief, and healing.

  • Bremerton, WA

    Tore through this book; as painful as it was beautiful. Reminded me of Murakami’s earlier books, especially “After Dark.” The darkening land was deeply unsettling, Maria’s grief was dazzling.

  • Minneapolis, MN

    This book contained elements of family drama, the legal system, fantasy, and even occasionally horror/dread. It also includes important issues, including police brutality against indigenous folx.

  • Moore, OK

    As a person of both Native heritage and an Oklahoman, this book touched me deeply. Strong character development and themes of family, heritage, and lasting effects of bigotry drive this must read.

  • Astoria, NY

    This book is one that will haunt me I'm pretty certain. Hobson's writing was mysterious and moving. I loved the way he showed up in different ways through the voices of each character- a true gift.

  • Independence, IA

    Complex and deep, the characters in this story are connected in their ancestry and their grief. Each is a wandering spirit, searching for a place to find rest and reparation from past wounds. 10/10

  • Healy, AK

    This heartbreaking book depicts well the long-term consequences of Indian Removal. The writing is powerful, with many images and much mystery and magic. Organization is challenging but effective.

  • San Ramon, CA

    This story surprised me in many ways. I fell in love with all of the Indian spirituality - it was all so unique, powerful, beautiful. Each character's experience & journey was profound & distinct.

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