Author: Beth Duke
Published: 8th February 2020 – The Art of Dixie
Format: Ebook – 412 pages (Paperback – 346 pages)
“Someday you will understand we are not whole until we know the ones who walked before us. They beat in our hearts and feel with our fingertips. We are the result of all who loved us into being, Little One.” – Tapestry
Hello Hello! How are you all feeling?
I’m so happy to be here today with this review and I’m so glad that you can join me on my stop today for the #RandomThingsTours organised by Anne Cater of Tapestry by Beth Duke. Thank you so much to Anne for the book and the chance to participate in this blog tour. Once again, I’ve loved working with you.
I was immediately intrigued by this book when Anne sent me the email a few months ago. At Stirling University, I have been following a class on American Indian History. I have always been fascinated by Native American Indian history and when I got the chance to take this module for my Erasmus trip, I knew straight away that it was what I wanted to do. I have loved this class right from the start and have felt a desire to learn as much as I possibly can and read everything I can find on the subject, be it fiction or non-fiction. So, when I got Anne’s email about a book that features an old lady who thought that she had Creek ancestry, I jumped at the chance. And it did not disappoint! Keep on reading for my thoughts on this beautiful book.
Twenty-one-year-old Skye Willis lives in Eufaula, Alabama, a tourist mecca of stately homes and world-class bass fishing. Her childhood friends are either stuck at dead ends or have moved on to accomplish Big Things.
Skye’s grandmother, Verna, insists on being called “Sparrow” because she suspects her ancestors were Muscogee Creek. She dresses in faux deerskin and experiments with ancient Native American recipes, offering a myth or legend to anyone who will listen.
Skye has no idea what to do with her life. She’s smart as hell, but she has no faith or knowledge there’s something out there she was “born to do.” Nor does she know much of anything about her father, who died in Afghanistan when she was a toddler. He and his family are a mystery her mother won’t discuss. But when Sparrow sets out to confirm her Creek ancestry through genetic testing, Skye joins in.
The results hit like a DNA bomb, launching them both on a path filled with surprises and life-changing events. Skye learns a harder truth than she ever expected.
Alternating chapters between Skye’s Alabama life and an intertwining tale of greed, deceit, and control in Texas, this story offers proof that all life is a woven tapestry of past, present, and future.
Tapestry by Beth Duke is a standalone novel that features a family of three generations of women as they go about their daily lives but also discover their roots. Sky Willis is the granddaughter of Verna Willis, who insists on people calling her Sparrow and that she is descended from Muscogee Creek Indians. Skye and her grandmother decide to each take a DNA test and the results will shock them and change their lives forever.
This book also has a secondary plot, following the life of Peter Darling, owner of the PFD Pipeline company trying to lay pipe in Oklahoma in Indian territory and facing difficulties from the Natives and activists. These two plots cross at multiple times in the book, crafting a unique story about family, ancestry, love and loss.
The book is set for the most part in Eufaula, Alabama, but at other times in Oklahoma, Dallas or New Zealand. The aspect of this book that I liked the most was when Skye and Sparrow went on their little trips and went to visit very important places in their ancestry. I have always wanted to find out more about my own ancestry and the way that these places were described as the starting point of their family resonated very strongly for me.
Eufaula is the birthplace of Skye and her grandmother insists that it is also where their ancestors have always been, but throughout this book, each person in this story leans that their ancestry is much more than just a place on a map.
This book was full of great characters, but I will only talk about those that I consider as the main characters.
Skye: I think we can say that Skye is the “main character”, but she is just as important as Sparrow and Pete as well. I fell for Skye right from the first page and it was surprising how much I could relate to her. She is described as a very bookish person with a lot of potential but she doesn’t know what to do with her life. Since losing her father at a very young age, she feels like there has always been a part of her missing and she vowed to him that she would find her ancestors. She loves her mother and grandmother dearly and she was just a very well developed character, kind, loving, determined and I enjoyed her storyline so much.
Sparrow: Sparrow (Verna) was my favourite character throughout this whole book and I held on to her and her plot so dearly. I think you could definitely say that she is the proverbial “old Indian lady”, she believes in her ancestry so strongly, gives her daughter and granddaughter constant pearls of Sparrow wisdom and loves her family more than anything. She came across as such a strong character, so realistic, powerfully linked to her ancestors and her heritage and such a beautiful soul. I loved her so much and she will certainly stay with me for a very long time.
Pete: I didn’t care for Pete very much when I first met him at the start of the book, but as the story went on and we got to learn more about him, I feel like I warmed to him a bit. I don’t want to say too much about him because I don’t want to give anything away, but I think he was also a very strong character. He could seem like a horrible rich man at the start, but towards the end I think that he becomes a lot more “human” with everything that happens and he also truly discovers who he is and where he comes from.
There are so many themes that I could talk about concerning this book, but I feel like the best way to really sell this book is with its two main themes.
Ancestry: From the first page, you get an idea that ancestry, family roots, heritage and discovering where you come from are going to be a really important part of this novel. The thing I liked the most about reading this theme was how Sparrow and Skye go o their “ancestry adventures”, even though they aren’t following the same lines/roots, they understand the importance of each and their values. A few years ago, I read Roots by Alex Haley, the true story of his family line which he fictionalised to some extent, and this book reminded me a bit of the same journey that the reader goes on in Roots. I think that this book gives a very important message of just how valuable your ancestry and heritage can be, how our ancestors fought for their lives and for their descendants’ lives, living through struggles and heartache because it was to protect their family. Ancestry is an important thing to keep in mind and this book really shows us just how linked we all are to one another and I found that so beautiful, meaningful and emotional. I loved it from start to finish.
Family: Family is the second most important part of this book. The Willis matriarchy is a strong household of women and from this book I got such a strong sense of family and just how important your loved ones are. It truly was a beautiful family saga and the ties these Willis women have was really beautiful.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
I absolutely adored reading this book, I am actually quite lost for words (shocking for me, right?) and I can’t stop thinking about this beautiful story. I have always been very interested by ancestry and by the history of Native Americans, and this book gave me both, beautiful woven together and utterly mesmerising.
I gave this book 5 stars and I cannot recommend it enough. I think this book would be loved by so many people, because the message is universal and can resonate with anyone, regardless of their ancestry. I think that this may be one of my favourite books of the year, on par with Away With The Penguins by Hazel Prior, another one of Anne’s blog tour books!
Thank you again to Anne and Beth for letting me be part of this tour and providing the book for me to read. It was such a beautiful experience and I will remember it fondly for a very long time.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this rating and will want to read this incredible book. See you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – BETH DUKE
Beth Dial Duke is an Amazon #1 Best Selling author and the recipient of short story awards on two continents. She is eyeing the other five. Beth lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, one real dog, one ornamental dog, and a flock of fluffy pet chickens. She loves reading, writing, and not arithmetic. Baking is a hobby, with semi-pro cupcakes and amateur macarons a specialty. And puns—the worse, the better. Travel is her other favorite thing, along with joining book clubs for discussion. Please invite her to London…England or Kentucky, either is fine. Anywhere!
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Barnes and Noble