With her grandsons in mind, Charlene Pillow Little has recorded her family history, from her 1937 birth in rural Arkansas through her early 70s in northern Alabama. Little’s forthrightness and humor show through her writing as she takes readers along.
From early on, Little moved frequently: with her parents to find farm work; to Memphis at 16 for her first “big city” office job; and with her children during her husband’s rising engineering career. For each move, she recalls home addresses and descriptions, churches she joined, schools her children attended and positions her husband held while inserting motherly boasts about her daughters’ accomplishments.
The “Sarah” of the title refers to the name Little wished her parents had given her. Although she never legally changed her name, she did try it out when she started school, unbeknownst to her mom and dad. She also used it to label the family photos in her book.
That resoluteness is a large part of her character, which comes through in her accounts of being the feisty only sister of four brothers and the spirited grandmother of four growing boys. Of her own teenage antics, she writes, “The point of these short stories is to confess my sins and shortcomings and admit that I was a fairly normal teen, looking to have a good time . . .”.
Occasionally, Little misuses or misspells a word or confuses a reference (for example, she refers to the United Negro College Fund’s slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” as an ad to discourage drug use and Elvis Presley’s hit “Hound Dog” as being about a misbehaving dog). But these errors seem to fit her plucky, head-first approach to life. Imperfections and all, her book surely will delight her family, though it holds little interest for general readers.
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