4 out of 4 stars
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The book Tales From Piney Grove by Bobby Morrison tells the story of the life of his family of sharecroppers in 1960s North Carolina. Bobby reminisces about everything in his years in Piney Grove from the church that the small community would worship in every Sunday, to the landowner that the sharecroppers were under, to the bullies of the town that everyone despised, to the discussions that the church ladies had with his mother. Everything made up his childhood, but once the textile mills started coming to Piney Grove, everything changed.
This book is an incredible tale of how poor people would make the best of a situation. They knew that they didn't have as much money as the land-owners, but since they were all poor they didn't feel sorry for themselves.If someone had taken them to another area where people really lived differently, they might have realized that their way of life wasn't normal. However, when they were all just a community together, they couldn't complain. Instead, they learned how to have fun within their means. Instead of spending money on expensive refrigerators and freezers, they would go to the local general store to buy cold treats. They also spent a lot of time with each other, hanging out in the summer heat after church at the local dance hall.
One of the most interesting parts of this book was hearing about the "city slickers" who would come and seduce the young girls who wanted to get off the sharecropping farms. It was a sad thought that these girls would push away the farm boys to try to go after the city boys, even though the city boys were not truly interested in them. However, it was a reality at the time. Most of the women in this story were doomed to have an unhappy life, unlike the boys who at least had a chance at living differently. The women were either doomed to live with an alcoholic husband in a horrible house or they were going to try to find a city boy to help them get out of the South and into a cushy city apartment, even if the city boy was only using her. The men also found help by going into the military to make money differently, but the women couldn't even do this.
This book was short and fast-paced, but each page revealed another layer of the poverty-stricken South. It gave me knowledge about the type of life that my grandparents lived, and it allows the readers to see a different version of the 1960s America. When people think of the 60s, they think of "greasers" with guys and girls that ride motorcycles, or they think of the Civil Rights movement. They don't think of an area, almost completely cut off from the rest of the world, where people are living in shacks and working for a land-owner, almost as if slavery still existed.
I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars. It had no editing errors, the pacing was excellent, and the story was incredible. There wasn't a single part of the book that I disliked. I would definitely reread this book just to see if I could pick up on more stories and be transported into this historical version of the South again.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, or anyone who enjoys success stories about people who started off with nothing and eventually work their way up and out of their bad situation.
Tales from Piney Grove
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