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Books Of Our Lives

Have you ever wondered what your great-great-grandchildren will think about our lives today? Will they wonder how we did without whatever great invention they have? Will they even know what our lives in this day and age were like? I have made a habit of recording specific things I want my daughter and later descendants to be able to hold onto as part of their history. Because others before us have done the same, we can read novels like the ones featured here.

Music from a Place Called Half Moon, by Jerrie Oughton (Houghton Mifflin, $16), is the tale of Edie Jo Houp, a 13-year-old growing up in the small town of Half Moon, North Carolina, in the ’50s. In Half Moon, there are two classes of people: the whites, and the Indians and “half-breeds.” Edie Jo, however, finds an unexpected friendship with a “half-breed” boy named Cherokee. Could his family have something to do with the burning of her Gramma’s house? The answer to this mystery brings a surprising and grim twist to the story that left me unable to put the book down. Although intended for young-adult readers, this work should be read by all adults for a good lesson in the evils of prejudice.

Above the Slate (Jesse Stuart Foundation, $12) is the first work of Harlan native Lou Martin. The novel lets the reader “listen in” on the day-to-day struggles of former coal miner Grady Allen and his wife, Neva. The story is set in the ’30s when money was scarce and luxuries were few. The anticlimactic feel of the book lends to the emphasis on what little happiness these hard-working people could anticipate while facing one hard time after another. Reading of the Allens’ struggles made me appreciate my modernized life even more.

What better way to preserve history than with photography? You can do just that with Kentucky, a collection of beautiful photographs of Kentucky sites with text by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Whitecap Books, $16.95). From horse farms to hometown streets, this collection covers many different looks of our state in all the seasons’ glory. This is a great coffee-table book, and is a steal at a much lower price than most collections of color photography.

Remember your teen years? James Baker Hall helps us remember how painful they can be in Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings (University Press of Kentucky, $19.95). Yates is the 13-year-old son of a widower. His father is a photographer who seems incredibly lonely and is becoming increasingly distant from Yates. As he spends time at his father’s photography studio, Yates discovers a natural talent for photography himself, but can’t seem to convince his father that he is actually good at it. Incidentally, this book has been re-released 40 years after its original publication date and is predicted to become one of the great classics.

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