The Shadows of Appalachia (Paperback)
Born in 1928, Mary Bremier has a remarkably keen eye, both for the beauty of her natural world and for the telling details of human frailty. The Shadows of Appalachia has a deft, musical voice that recalls the regional dialect as well as the songs, sayings, and prayers that shaped her Depression-era childhood. Her gentle irony lays bare the mindset of her hardworking, proud, ignorant, doomed-to-failure, beloved Appalachian family.
The Appalachian culture, the same subject as Hillbilly Elegy, is expanded upon in The Shadows of Appalachia with empathy, a rich cast of characters, and some laugh-out-loud humor. The action and setting have similarities to Little House on the Prairie, although it is more nuanced and at times dark, with adult themes.
This is a book about the power of language, and how education offers a route out and away from the limitations of narrow-mindedness. Young Mary, silenced and shamed by her mother, is also crippled by dyslexia. Her unconventional education results in her facile, engaging ability to play with words, and reveals how Mary ultimately thrives.
After the tragic loss of her husband and young daughter, Mary returns to Appalachia to resolve her conflict with her painful past, her family's shortcomings, and the death of a way of life.