My high school librarian always told me that past history has to be witnessed by those who didn’t live it in order to live on in our memories and to prevent it from happening again. I have taken that to heart in the years since by reading and watching nonfiction about events that happened before I was born.
My latest nonfiction read was Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf. This is a graphic nonfiction account of the Kent State shootings that happened on May 4, 1970. On that date, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio. Four students were killed and nine were wounded in a deadly fusillade of 67 bullets.
This story is told from the perspective of the four students who were killed, as well as other students on campus and the writer himself. Ten days prior to the shooting, 10-year-old Derf Backderf was riding in the car with his mother when he saw the same National Guardsman patrolling his nearby hometown, having been brought in by the governor to hopefully squash a trucker strike. Backderf spent years doing interviews and conducting research into the lives of the people affected by the Kent State shootings. What he has created brought me to tears. Reading about their lives before the shooting, how the area was affected afterwards, and the coverup that occured had my emotions running ragged. I found this story to be troubling and concerning, and also incredibly relevant to today as dissent and protesting happens across the world.
The world right now is uncertain. I find myself longing for times when family and friends could get together without care or worries. In an effort to feel more of that carefree spirit(without actually getting close to people), I have been searching for more books to read about families. Cue: literary generational fiction.
The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz tells the story of Ellie and Brick. In the 1950s, Ellie and Brick are growing up in Clayton Valley, Ohio. Ellie wants to marry Brick McGinty. She wants to go to nursing school. It seems Ellie has finally figured out how she can get what she wants, even if her grandparents don’t approve.
Brick may be a basketball star at his high school, but he has big plans to go to college on a scholarship to play basketball. That is his chance to escape his abusive father, to be the first in his family to attend college, and to become a man that he can be proud of. Ellie and Brick are determined to succeed together and start a new life in a new place.
Their plans fall apart when Ellie finds out she is pregnant. Realizing that their big dreams will have to be put on hold, the two switch gears and begin to build their family. Ellie and Brick quickly discover that this new life is full of ups and downs. They have to rely on each other and work together to provide a stable and loving home for everyone. Just as they seem to settle back into a rhythm, someone knocks on their front door and delivers news that has the power to destroy their lives.
The Daughters of Erietown follows the evolution of women’s lives over fifty years. While each person in this story may have their own secrets, others have the power to reach out and destroy the precious balance that they have created. This novel discusses the known and the unknown, the whispers that may be true or not, and how you choose to deal with them.
This book is also available in the following formats: