Whether you are staying out of the heat or diving into the water I have a great must read recommendation for you this summer. Apron Strings by local author Mary Morony hits every note perfectly. A coming of age story which is set in our own backyard, this novel will propel you down memory lane if you grew up in this area. Even if you are not from Charlottesville, the Southern flavor is sure to make you feel at home. Morony does an amazing job recreating 1950’s Virginia. Not only does she bring this era back to life, but her characters are rich and memorable. Each voice is authentic and clear…resonating with emotion and texture. These voices drive the story and compel you to turn each page. From the description of the smelly Uncle whose picks the children up in his car, to the first glimpse Ethel has of Big Early, each scene is painted perfectly.
Seven year old Sallee Mackey shares the narration with Ethel, a black maid who takes care of Sallee and her siblings. Ethel sees the world around her through different eyes and gives a glimpse of the world Salle can’t see yet…and may never see because of the color of her skin. Ethel is a complex character who struggles with her own demons that constantly threaten to drag her under but her love for the family she works for is clear.
This is a wonderful example of a book that you can get lost in. I loved the language and nuances of each character…and the ending came all too soon for me. There is so much turmoil and love filling these pages as Salle struggles to understand her family. Divorce looms and tempers flare in the summer heat and there is sadness and sweetness here that I think will truly touch you. It isn’t an easy happy ending but a bittersweet acceptance of flaws and disappointments that bring this book to a close. The prejudice that could rear its ugly head in the 1950’s, often does…whether it is in the form of the nasty neighbors or closer to home. What I found especially compelling was the fact that most of the characters were faceted and for every flaw you saw…there were other aspects that made them sympathetic. There is a lovely balance here of kindness and crookedness that life often throws at you.
I am thrilled to recommend another local artist to you that I think will charm you with her writing so make sure you check out Apron Strings this summer. By Suzanne Nash