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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

All the Pretty Things review

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth

For a long time, Edie thought she had escaped. It started in an Appalachian trailer park, where a young girl dreamed of becoming a doctor. But every day, Edie woke up to her reality: a poverty-stricken world where getting out seemed impossible. Where, at twelve years old, she taught herself to drive a truck so she could get her drunk daddy home from the bar. Where the grownups ate while the children went hungry. Where, when the family trailer burned down, she couldn’t be caught squawlin’ over losing her things—she just had to be grateful anyone had remembered to save her at all.

And at the center of it all, there was her daddy. She never knew when he would show up; she learned the hard way that she couldn’t count on him to protect her. But it didn’t matter: All she wanted was to make him proud. Against all odds, Edie “made doctor,” achieving everything that had once seemed beyond her reach. But her past caught up with her—and it would take her whole life burning down once again for Edie to be finally able to face the truth about herself, her family, and her relationship with God.

My Review:

Every little girl longs for her Daddy's love.  The girl from the broken home.  The girl with a broken father.  And Edie was no exception.  And while this story doesn't focus entirely on her desire to feel loved by her father, it is there and it will resonate within the reader.

While I didn't do most of my growing up years in Appalachia, I have been in the region since I was 12 (no, I won't tell you how long "since" has been!) and Wadsworth does a wonderful job of capturing what rural, poor Appalachia looks like,
The guardrails provided somewhat of a barrier and peace of mind from the hundred-foot drop-off to the valley below-the valley that had become a dumping ground for everything from empty milk cartons to beer cans to old worn-out couches, and even the ocassional rusted-out car. The switchbacks were so narrow that if another car approached, you either had to hug the embankment to the right and pray you didn't puncture your tires from broken glass or hope one of you would be able to back up to where the road widened enough for both vehicles.
Wadsworth does a wonderful job of capturing the angst and longing of growing up in this environment.  This story has it all: a struggle to overcome the past, a desire to achieve more, success, failures, trials, hurt, angst, and self-realization.

As with many Appalachian families, faith is interwoven throughout the story.  For me this was the most "true" aspect.  Wadsworth doesn't gloss over her trials.  She doesn't spout off easy cliches about how she always knew God was going to make everything better. Instead she shares her doubts, her uncertainties about her salvation and her walk, and her journey to coming to really know her Creator.

So I will close my review with Edie's own words after her realization that so much of life is out of our control:
Whether we work or don't, whether we homeschool or not, whether we've had nurturing marriages or not, we walk in humility-knowing that we are dependent on God to use mostly our failures to teach us something of what it means to be a parent, to be a human being.
After all, isn't that truly what life is about, recognizing that God is in control?

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