Wednesday, February 04, 2009
LITTLE HEATHENS by Mildred Kalish
LITTLE HEATHENS: HARD TIMES AND HIGH SPIRITS ON AN IOWA FARM DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION is a charming memoir. It is the current selection of my book club and I wasn't sure what to expect. Millie Kalish brings us back to her childhood during the Great Depression on a farm in Iowa and the subject matter couldn't be more timely. Kalish shares with us all the little economies that her family practiced as well as the great joys and entertainment they found while living on a farm without modern conveniences. The book reminded me a great deal of Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE in that it offers an almost idyllic view of a simpler, greener life where people grow their own food and recycle items naturally.
I grew up in Texas and my grandparents had a farm at one time. Much of the story reminded me of them. One chapter focuses on idioms and aphorisms and I recognized quite a few that my own grandmother used to say. The book had me feeling nostalgic for a time that I never ever experienced. Many of the economies practiced in the memoir were especially compelling to me considering the hard economic times we are currently facing.
My only complaint about the book is that it often felt disorganized. Kalish jumps around in time and in subject in an almost dizzying fashion. The ending of the book seems very rushed and abrupt. However, I loved reading about this particular time and place and all the recipes and advice that Kalish included.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. If you are looking for a quick, charming memoir full of recipes and humor, look no further. This book could almost serve as a self-help book in that we could all learn something from it about being more self-reliant and less addicted to technology and on appreciating all the little things that life has to offer.