This collection of essays chronicles the author’s life, beginning with her parents’ history and extending over decades to her life today.
The stories are set primarily in Montana, where Mary Ellen Connelly grew up first as the daughter of a foreman for the Great Northern Railroad, and later, as the step-daughter of Charlie, who she describes as a “quirky old coot.” Many of these tales are lighthearted, recalling a close family with active lives. There are youthful hijinks, such as the winter the snow piled so high that her brother was able to ride his sled out an upstairs window, sending him “flying across the tracks and up the hill on the other side.” And the tale of Charlotte, the “renegade” toddler who went missing and was discovered at the top of the 60- to 75-foot-tall water tower ladder.
As Connelly ages, the adventures continue. In “A Trip Disaster,” she and a friend end up with a broken-down car hours from a city of any size. A series of good Samaritans save the day, but not without some white-knuckle moments, including a driver who “drove over a hundred miles an hour, all the while talking to his wife beside him and turning his head to talk to us in the back seat…”
This is an enjoyable, candid read, and while mostly light, it is not without painful moments. The one weakness is that Connelly does not write chronologically, but rather by topic, so there are times when a character comes into play without explanation of who he or she is. A more careful ordering of the stories might have avoided some of the initial confusion this can cause.
While personal stories shared by strangers can have difficulty attracting a wide readership outside of family and friends, readers who enjoy a well-told tale are likely to enjoy this collection.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.