There’s so much packed up in this story, and it’s all beautiful.
‘Tho I Be Mute By Heather Miller released last Tuesday in the Historical Fiction/Romance genre.
Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.
In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.
Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.
Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.
Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mV6p5r
As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.
Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.
While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.
This is a deeply contemporary issue. Can you talk about what we can learn from this story and translate it into our daily life?
The theme was not one that I began knowing. It presented itself organically about halfway through the original draft.
Muteness—Is there wisdom in silence? Defiance in silence? When we do not or cannot listen to one another, we are all mute.
The three narrative voices are mute in vastly different ways. One character isn’t heard by those he needs to convince. Another doesn’t speak the Cherokee language. And the third learns her power to understand comes from quiet faith.
A time arrived when each of us spoke but remained mute to the ones we needed to hear us most. I nodded at him, understanding; my voice humbled in deft gratitude of his simple mastery, his Christianity against my complexity, entwined in imaginary braids of wild moonflower vines.
“Amazing Grace” entered my mind. Sarah’s soprano voice bound off the carriage frame of my memory, “I was blind, but now I see . . .” I did not need to look at her to sense her light. From miles far away, she reminded me. In emotional distress, blindfolds cover our ears and leave us our eyes to seek solace for our needs by faith alone.
Another thematic thread runs through the work both in literal and figurative ways, the idea that we, as human beings, must fall to fly.
At this point in my life, my children are young adults and are starting their own lives further away from my nest. As a mother, we shouldn’t prevent our children’s fall but make the nest a soft place to land. Children learn from the fall. They learn to fly on their own, building strength and a clearer sense of direction.
He wrote his last question to me on one of his last nights, although we did not know so at the time. He coughed from a disease that settled in his chest, and he was hot to the touch. Momma made him a bed of blankets near the fire. Grandma and I gave him milkweed oil and pleurisy root tea.
He coughed more than he spoke and wrote with me as I sat with him on the floor. He wrote, “Moonbeam, when we leave the Earth, what dreams will come?”
I did not consider the question long before my thirteen-year-old mind dipped the quill to write, “I do not know for sure, Papa, but in the dreams, I hope we fly.”
He wrote, “Soar, my Moonbeam. You’ve always had the strength to fly.”
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