3 out of 4 stars
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A Portrait of Mommy by J. L. Coston told the story of the author’s mother. The events unfolded in chronological order. The narrative began with her birth in Georgia and covered the eighty-eight years of this incredible and fascinating woman's life.
Ellawese Darden was born on July 4, 1929, in Jacksonville, Georgia. From an early age, her parents called her Peas. Her home life crumbled due to the consequences of her father’s drinking and her mother’s infidelity. Her father allowed her to drop out of high school when the principal refused to deal with a bullying issue. Her marriage became tense and unhappy due to an alcoholic husband. She was a follower, living life from one crisis to the next. Then a tragic event defined her life. After this earth-shaking experience, Peas would no longer be a follower. She became a leader and decided to dedicate her life to serving God by helping others. What was the catalyst that shook her world and gave her life a spiritual focus?
I enjoyed the way J. L. Coston told her mother’s story in A Portrait of Mommy: Expressions of Love, Faith, and Perseverance. The respect that the author extended to her mother was a shining example of love for her progenitor. Peas shared many experiences of how she had helped her mother resolve stressful and overwhelming circumstances. She loved her mother and showed a nonjudgmental attitude toward her choices. These events developed her character and guided her future decisions and choices.
It would be incorrect to assert that Peas led a mundane life. The author captivated me with the numerous dramatic events that caused upheaval and trauma in her life. This nonfiction book frequently felt like a fictional novel as Peas confronted and overcame abandonment, abuse, bullying, and a failing marriage. There was ample opportunity for her to become bitter or vengeful. Nevertheless, she responded to adverse circumstances with compassion, forgiveness, and love. Readers can conclude that forgiveness is always a choice. How was Peas able to forgive so much mistreatment at the hands of others? “Stay focused on Jesus. He is the only way!” (p. 118)
Peas spoke openly and frequently of her faith in Jesus. The book quoted her favorite biblical references but is not preachy or pushy about the Christian faith. Some readers might disagree with her commitment to remain faithful to her marriage vow after her husband began to abuse alcohol.
It puzzled me that Ellawese would not include the names of all of her children in the book. Peas and her husband, Jimmy, had six children. Some of them do not receive any mention in the narrative. There were also more than ten grammar errors indicating the need for another round of editing.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The author presented an intriguing memoir that highlighted the faith, love, and perseverance of her beloved mother. I had to lower the score due to the number of errors in the book. I recommend this book to those who enjoy memoirs that focus on women who have not let the hardships of life crush their spirit. This book would appeal to Christians as they observe Peas grow in her faith by forgiving and serving others. Readers looking for true stories about strong women leaders would enjoy this book.
A Portrait of Mommy
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