OUR CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOKS, “INDIVISIBLE,” BY RANDI SACHS, “WALKING WITH TREES,” BY P.R. LOWE AND “FIRE IN THE BONE,” BY MARK R. HARRIS, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.
UPCOMING ON “SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD,” APRIL 26-MAY 2
You might not think so, but historians and novelists are actually first cousins.
Even as legions of sci-fi writers are forging ahead to where no fantasy author has gone before, many other spinners of fiction are time-traveling backwards.
For history offers much to a novelist — a ready-made landscape in which to deposit characters, a chance to not only create but re-capture a mood for readers, and a lot of unanswered questions.
Moreover, history flies past us at the speed of light. By the time we realize something is “historic,” it is usually already gone. History classes only scratch the surface — students learn about “when and “who,” but rarely what it was like to be those people.
Which brings us to our three “Snowflakes” books this week, each of them dealing with some aspect of history. Becky Mushko’s “Them That Go” ventures back only a few years, while Wanda Parker’s novel “For Love of Charity” takes us to the American frontier. Finally, Kim Pearson’s “Making History” is a primer on ways to milk history for both family stories and pieces from a writers’ imagination.
“THEM THAT GO,” BY BECKY MUSHKO
In 1972, seventeen-year-old Annie Caldwell, who has the “gift” of animal communication, wants to be normal, but she’ll settle for being unnoticed. Annie’s brother died in Vietnam, her mother is depressed, and her father drinks. Her only friend is elderly Aint Lulie—who lives in the same holler and understands the gift because she has one, too: “The first daughter in ever’ other generation has always been blest with a gift, though some think it a curse.”
As they sit by the fireplace in the evenings and tell each other stories, Aint Lulie shares family history with Annie, including a relative’s mysterious death and how some of their ancestors came to settle in the area: “There’s always been them that go and them that stay in ever’ generation.”
When a local girl goes missing, Aint Lulie’s and Annie’s gifts can help solve the mystery—but if Annie speaks up, she can no longer go unnoticed.
Them That Go is an Appalachian coming-of-age novel rich in tradition, superstition, family ties, and secrets.
“MAKING HISTORY,” BY KIM PEARSON
Making History is a comprehensive, easy to use, fun method of exploring the times of your (or someone else’s) life against a backdrop of historic events. It illuminates personal power, providing an antidote to the apathetic assumption that one person cannot make a difference. It contains detailed historic timelines from 1930 through 1989; vibrant true stories full of humor, tragedy, and excitement; thought-provoking questions to help the reader discover how they contributed to and participated in the events of their time; and easily accessible information arranged in eight categories, which are: Economics and Politics, The Social Fabric (race, gender, and morality), War and the International Scene, Technology and Science, Crime and Disaster, Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle Activities (food, fashion, toys, sports, etc.) and The Weird and Trivial (scandals and gossip, comics, slang, pets, etc.).
“FOR LOVE OF CHARITY,” BY WANDA PARKER
Charity, raised with wealth and privilege has her world shattered when her fiancé runs away before the wedding. With determination, she reinvents herself from a lady to a frontier lad and joins a trader to try and find him. During the long journey carrying a heavy pack and masquerading as a young boy, she learns the hardships and dangers of frontier life, from bear attacks, rogue white men, and fierce Indians. She also learns she has the inner strength to be a survivor.