My heart broke for Ella May. From the beginning chapters, I realized that Ella May’s life had been hard since day one but her heart was in a good place. With four children to care for and being just thirty, she took this responsibility seriously. Charlie, the man male adult in her life, was a low-life in my opinion and when he left her again, I was happy. She didn’t need that type of individual darkening her already, dark days. What she needed was hope, something that would benefit herself and others like her.
Ella May worked the overnight shift. Working six days a week, twelve hours days, this job gave her just enough money to put a roof over her children’s heads. She knew her children were hungry because she, herself was hungry. She wasn’t a proud woman but she loved her children and she was providing for them the best that she could. Ella May works in a yarn factory and when she heard talk about a union, Ella May is intrigued. She heard that if she joins the union, she would earn better pay which would allow her to keep a roof over her family and perhaps better food on her table. Charlie is against the union as he doesn’t believe in white individuals working beside colored individuals. It’s funny because Ella May has been working with colored individuals for years and now, this becomes an issue plus why should she listen to Charlie. Charlie can’t seem to hold down a job himself but he can hold a liquor bottle to his lips real well.
Ella May is excited to hear more about the union and as she attends one of its rallies, she is filled with energy as she listens. Within her, a spark is lit. This propels her to make this union her mission, to help individuals get out of their current state of poverty which she believes can be done by joining the union. A dangerous situation for some individuals who are living in the South, in the year 1929.
We know how Ella May fares in the end as we read the entries from her oldest daughter Lilly in the novel. She retells the story about her mother, about her mother fight and her love for those around her. Lilly’s recount of her mother’s history showed me how others saw her mother and how she never forgot where she came from.
I enjoy reading these types of stories, books from the mountain ranges. This story shows the pride and the struggles that some individuals took to help themselves and others to create a better life. I liked Ella May’s view on life, I think she knew that she couldn’t give her children the best that the world had to offer yet I feel that she gave them much more. She gave them the best that she could, she gave of herself, she showed them the power of love. I enjoyed this novel and I can’t wait to read the other novels that Wiley wrote.