Crooked Hallelujah Archives - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Radio Bristol Book Club: Crooked Hallelujah

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Our June book club pick is Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford. A saga about family, the bonds between women, and surviving in a world filled with challenges and dangers, Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine – a mixed-blood Cherokee woman – and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma’s Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. Justine’s mother Lula and her Granny were powerful forces in her life, and leaving them and the home she’s always known behind is hard. Throughout the book, Kelli Jo Ford explores the mother-daughter bond and the ways that this family sacrifices much for those they love, amid the larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture.

A black book cover with the silhouette of two women holding hands. The silhouettes show a red sky and open landscape.

Courtesy of Grove Atlantic

Kelli Jo Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Crooked Hallelujah, her debut novel-in-stories, was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Story Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, The Dublin Literary Award, and The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

A photograph of a Native American woman. She has short black hair and is wearing a dark blue long-sleeved top and dangly earrings. She is smiling at the camera.

Courtesy of Grove Atlantic, © Val Ford Hancock

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, June 23 at 12:00pm for the discussion of Crooked Hallelujah. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for July is The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian by Heather Ewing; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, July 28. Check out our full list of 2022 Radio Bristol Book Club picks here, where you can also listen to archived shows!

Rene Rodgers is Head Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an obsessive reader!