A Compelling Novel About Poverty #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

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Dog Bone Soup (Historical Fiction): A Boomer’s Journey

by Bette Stevens

 

What Amazon Says

 

Whether or not you grew up in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find Dog Bone Soup (Historical Fiction) to be soup for the soul. In this coming-of-age novel, Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. Dog Bone Soup is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living the American dream.

 

My Thoughts

 

I was born in 1961. Although my father wasn’t the town drunk, he had an alcohol problem. Fortunately, we were never as poor as the family in this novel, but there were times when money was tight. So, I can relate.

I was right there with Shawn and Willie through their antics and hardships. I like the way the author tells this story from Shawn’s first-person point of view in the way he would have talked back then. I nearly applauded at one point close to the end of the book when Shawn, a teenager, takes a stand against his drunken father.

One scene really made me mad. At Thanksgiving, after President Kennedy has been assassinated, ladies from a local church bring the family a basket of food. Although the children are starving, Shawn’s mother is too proud to accept this gift, and in no uncertain terms, she tells those nice ladies what they can do with their “charity.” If we were in that position, I doubt my mother would have done that.

I like the title. Dog bone soup is a concoction Shawn’s mother makes frequently, consisting of meat from rancid dog bones mixed with vegetables. It may not have been too appetizing, but if you’re really hungry, you’ll eat anything. This book made me thankful that my family was never in such dire straits when I was growing up.

***

This coming Saturday, I’ll be signing copies of my new book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, from 1-3 p.m. at Sheridan Stationery Books and Gifts here in Sheridan, Wyoming. If you’re in my neck of the woods, please stop by. You can also visit the event’s Facebook page to learn more.

You’re also invited to my state poetry society’s virtual open mic poetry reading on Sunday, December 12th at 5 p.m. mountain time. You can share some poetry or just listen. See below for details.

***

WyoPoets is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

 

This event is open to anyone who wants to share or listen to poetry. You
don’t have to be a member of WyoPoets, you don’t even have to be in Wyoming
to participate. So, feel free to invite your friends!

 

Please sign up to read using this Google Form:
https://forms.gle/aRFLvfXSxJn3FF5F8
The first 20 poets to sign up will get to read, additional poets will be
allowed based on time.

Topic: Poetry Night
Time: Dec 12, 2021 05:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 815 2731 7416
Passcode: 813443
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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbpMPXDmU0

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Thursday Book Feature: A Town Like Alice

A Town Like Alice

By Nevil Shute

Copyright 1950.

 

Jeanne, a young English woman, is taken prisoner by the Japanese in Malaya during World War II. She and other women and children are marched across Malaya from one village to another. One Japanese commander after another refuses to take responsibility for them and sends them on their way. This goes on for over six months. Under-nourished and receiving little medical attention, fraught with illness, half of them die but not Jeanne.

Along the way, the women are befriended by two Australian soldiers, also prisoners. One of them, Joe, steals several chickens from a nearby Japanese officer’s home in order to feed them. When the Japanese find out, they crucify him and force the women and children to watch, then move on.

Months later, in another village, with the Japanese guard escorting the women dead after an illness, they’re left to their own devices. They work in the village’s rice paddies to support themselves for the next three years until the war ends.

Years later, back in England, Jeanne receives a sizable inheritance from a deceased uncle. Armed with sufficient funds, she returns to the village in Malaya where she and the other women worked in the rice paddies. In gratitude to the villagers for supporting her and the other women during the war, she has a well built in the center of town to make life easier for the women of the village since there is no running water.

She then finds out that Joe survived his ordeal at the hands of the Japanese and travels to Australia to find him. Fate brings them together, and she starts a new life in the outback.

This story is told, in part, by the lawyer in England who manages the trust fund Jeanne’s uncle set up for her in the event of his death. The lawyer relates Jeanne’s story, as she tells it to him in person and through her letters.

In a way, this book reminded me of a memoir I read a couple of years ago. Unbroken is the story of Olympic track star Louis Zamperini’s life in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. At one point while Jeanne and the other women are marching across Malaya under Japanese guard, she wonders if life would be better in a camp. If she knew what was happening to Zamperini, probably at about the same time…

At the end of the book, the author includes a note in which he explains that during World War II, the Japanese marched a group of women and children across Sumatra, not Malaya. Why, then, did he set that part of the story in Malaya? He should have explained his reason for re-inventing history. Otherwise, if I were Australian, and you were to ask me if this was a good book, I would say, “Oh my word!”

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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