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Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2005

    4.5 Stars!

    The story opens up in April 1945. June is nine-years-old. Her parents had recently dropped her off, at the home of Aunt Mattie and Uncle Cade, with only a pillowcase full of clothes. They reside in Jackson County of the North Carolina mountains. Uncle Cade is also the local sheriff. ........................................ .......................... .............. The Rednell family reside at the Watsons' place. The daddy is often drunk and always cruel. Sheriff Cade has been called out to settle disputes at the Rednell's and calm the daddy down many times. This time, however, Uncle Cade is shot and killed. The daddy is arrested, but claims he did not do it. No one else is talking. Aunt Mattie and June are now all alone. It is from this time onward that everyone in the community begins calling June 'Mattie's Girl'. ........................................ .......................... .............. Here the story suddenly shifts and time goes backwards. Most of the novel is set before the year of 1945. Only the beginning and a few chapters toward the end are set during June's life changing month of April 1945 and beyond. The reader learns about June's parents and what led them to abandon June with her aunt and uncle. Through June's eyes, readers learn how hard life really was in the mountains during this era of time. Readers learn about Halloween carnivals, home remedies, making toothbrushes from a sassafras bush, listening to radio shows, mad dogs, and even about Hog Killing Day. June's favorite thing to do is to read. Through her books and a few visitors, June learns that good grammar and a strong vocabulary can equal power. June's best friend is PeeDee Rednell. Even though her daddy is accused of killing her Uncle Cade, June and PeeDee remain close friends. Yet PeeDee's life is even worse than June could possibly imagine. ........................................ .......................... .............. **** For teenagers, this story is a real eye opener. This is what life was like for their grandparents, before electricity reached the mountain homes. For older adults, this story is like going back in time, especially if they grew up in a mountain town. Author Celia Miles has done an excellent job in bringing the past to life in this fascinating story of a little girl named June. Readers will find themselves enthralled as they read about survival in such a poor community. Highly recommended reading. ****

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