Peggy Vonsherie Allen


“With a storyteller's eye for significant detail and a clear and engaging writing style, Allen describes the pragmatic rural black nationalism that defined the lives of so many sharecropping families and the backbreaking toil and near third-world conditions to which they were subjected in the southern Alabama of the 1960s. The reality of Allen's account knocks the wind out of the reader, yet the humorous tales sprinkled throughout allow it to be reflective without being somber.”
                                 —The Journal of Southern History

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“This is a wonderful memoir. . . . Allen’s writing displays the creativity African Americans demonstrated in getting by and the texture of their relationships with each other.  It also shows how traditional aspects of rural life remained visible even amidst the trappings of modern life. Her story feels timeless. . . . It is just a plain good read.”
—Lisa Lindquist Dorr, author of White Women, Rape, & the Power of Race in Virginia, 1900–1960

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Library Journal (starred review)

Allen grew up the daughter of a sharecropper in Greenville, AL, in the 1960s and 1970s. Her story, however, begins with her maternal grandfather and his strong, persevering mother, Moa. Instead of moving chronologically, Allen leaps among family narratives effortlessly, making the reader laugh and cry with each new adventure. She shows us the fear Moa felt as a young slave who lost her family and the pain her father endured when he lost his mother at a young age. Each tale in her family history leaves the reader eager to learn how the Allen clan will survive the coming hardships and celebrate more triumphs. It is easy to get lost in Allen's childhood world, filled with engaging characters and told in informal but poetic language. It often feels as though she is sitting across the table from the reader, sharing a cup of tea along with these family stories. VERDICT Recommended for lovers of memoirs and autobiographies and for anyone who enjoys narratives of personal triumph.—Sonnet Erin Brown, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

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