Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Echoes Beyond a memoir by Patsy Greenway and Christine Saunders

This is Christine and Pasty's recollection of growing up on Black Top Mountain in Virginia. It's based on a true story of their mother. From the moment Clara Bell Arnold met Patton Compton I couldn't put the book down. This book will take you back to a different time, growing up in the 1940s-60s in southwest Virginia. In fourteen years, Clara and Patton had twelve children. Echoes Beyond is a compilation of memories, what life was like on Black Top Mountain, from walking 2 miles to get to the bus stop, finding edible plants, sharing chores, and through it all, Clara's vision and faith in Jesus. Nothing was wasted, everything had a use. From daily struggles, to bullying, to adventures outside, Pasty and Christine portray a way of life not forgotten. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, children playing outside, close accidents that could have been deadly, all tell the tale of the hardships, the desperation of living on Blacktop Mountain.

Does Clara finally get away from the Mountain? Does she make a better life for herself and her children? I was drawn in by their memories, the kids at school making fun of them, the ones who would share food, the neighbors that would pitch in to help. The sight of the discarded sweet potato will stay with me. All of Christine's frustrations, anger, disappointments, are culminated in throwing that sweet potato as far as she could. You will laugh, cry, shudder, at the children's escapades as they entertain themselves in nature, not realizing the full danger, and live life the only way they know how. They didn't see how others lived, they only knew what they saw and they made the best of it. From tying a string to a June bug's leg to pitching cow patties to taking down a wasp nest, the children were never bored.

This is the story of a courageous, faith-filled woman and her family's struggle to live in southwest Virginia during a time of hardship and poverty, filled with love and hope for the future.


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