From Oklahoma to California, the heroes of A Calm & Normal Heart are modern-day adventurers—seeking out new places to call their own inside a nation to which they do not entirely belong. A member of the Osage tribe, author Chelsea T. Hicks’ stories are compelled by an overlooked diaspora happening inside America itself: that of young Native people.
In stories like “Superdrunk,” “Tsexope,” and “Wets’a,” iPhone lifestyles co-mingle with ancestral connection, strengthening relationships or pushing people apart, while generational trauma haunts individual paths. Broken partnerships and polyamorous desire signal a fraught era of modern love, even as old ways continue to influence how people assess compatibility. And in “By Alcatraz,” a Native student finds herself alone on campus over Thanksgiving break, seeking out new friendships during a national holiday she does not recognize. Leaping back in time, “A Fresh Start Ruined” inhabits the life of Florence, an Osage woman attempting to hide her origins while social climbing in midcentury Oklahoma. And in “House of RGB” a young professional settles into a new home, intent on claiming her independence after a break-up, even if her ancestors can’t seem to get out of her way.
Whether in between college semesters or jobs, on the road to tribal dances or escaping troubled homes, the characters of A Calm & Normal Heart occupy a complicated and often unreliable terrain. Chelsea T. Hicks brings sharp humor, sprawling imagination, and a profound connection to Native experience in a collection that will subvert long-held assumptions for many readers, and inspire hope along the way.