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Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Little Heathens (2007)

by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

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9644013,818 (3.66)57
  1. 00
    Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Right, so the story Blood, Bones & Butter took a hard left turn to big city living after childhood but the writing style was as honest and uncompromising and as full of food as Little Heathens.
  2. 00
    A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in Twentieth-Century France by Emilie Carles (Stbalbach)

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» See also 57 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I don't think I sent a comment on your last book, Hillbilly Elegy, but I thought it was very enlightening about a subculture that I lived in and around my whole life. My husband actually came from the same area in Kentucky as J.D. Vance and had a somewhat different experience but also "got above his raisin' " as we said in Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

Now this month's book, Little Heathens, is a look at another U.S. subculture that I could identify with even more closely even though, on the surface, it didn't seem to fit my experience at all. I grew up in small town West Virginia, much more a coal mining than a farming area, but many of the depression era values described in this book certainly pertained to my family. My experience of "use up, make do, do without," calm acceptance of hardship, and subdued emotions was much more the norm in my family and others around me than the violence and fierce clannishness of Hillbilly Elegy. ( )
  NMBookClub | May 3, 2017 |
Nytimes--1 of 10 best books of the year
A good story of life on a farm in the 30s and 40s. She's a positive person and saw her experiences positively. ( )
  mahallett | Feb 25, 2017 |
Many have written memoirs of the Depression in the rural midwest and while this book has gained great popularity, I think it is a poor example of the genre. The writer spends too much time preaching about how hard her childhood was compared to that of her children and grandchildren and how cushy we all have it. If you want a good memoir, try "A Nickle for a Bucket of Milk" or "We Have All Gone Away." Harder to find, but touching rather than whiny. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
I was very disappointed in this, esp since it got a fantastic rave in the NYTBR. It's a lovely story of growing up on a farm during the dperession with vivid descriptions of chores done and meals eaten. In the first chapter, Kalish explains that when she was five, her father was asked to leave by her grandparents and she never saw him again. No explanation. I read the whole book thinking at some point this might come up again. It didn't. Nada.

Also, the book is just a tad preachy. I mean, I don't have my own farm but I have eaten a farm-grown tomato. On the other hand, I have learned that anything can be cleaned with Bon Ami. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Plainly written and not particularly eventful, but fascinating to read about the daily routines of a farm during the Depression. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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This book is for my three families -- To my birth family, who share the everlasting bonds of kinship. To my husband's warm and loving family, who welcomed me to their bosom in total acceptance from the day I walked into their lives over sixty-two years ago. And finally, to my immediate family, who give my life meaning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553384244, Paperback)

I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp.

So begins Mildred Kalish’s story of growing up on her grandparents’ Iowa farm during the depths of the Great Depression. With her father banished from the household for mysterious transgressions, five-year-old Mildred and her family could easily have been overwhelmed by the challenge of simply trying to survive. This, however, is not a tale of suffering.

Kalish counts herself among the lucky of that era. She had caring grandparents who possessed—and valiantly tried to impose—all the pioneer virtues of their forebears, teachers who inspired and befriended her, and a barnyard full of animals ready to be tamed and loved. She and her siblings and their cousins from the farm across the way played as hard as they worked, running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared.

Filled with recipes and how-tos for everything from catching and skinning a rabbit to preparing homemade skin and hair beautifiers, apple cream pie, and the world’s best head cheese (start by scrubbing the head of the pig until it is pink and clean), Little Heathens portrays a world of hardship and hard work tempered by simple rewards. There was the unsurpassed flavor of tender new dandelion greens harvested as soon as the snow melted; the taste of crystal clear marble-sized balls of honey robbed from a bumblebee nest; the sweet smell from the body of a lamb sleeping on sun-warmed grass; and the magical quality of oat shocking under the light of a full harvest moon.

Little Heathens offers a loving but realistic portrait of a “hearty-handshake Methodist” family that gave its members a remarkable legacy of kinship, kindness, and remembered pleasures. Recounted in a luminous narrative filled with tenderness and humor, Kalish’s memoir of her childhood shows how the right stuff can make even the bleakest of times seem like “quite a romp.”

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Mildred Armstrong Kalish's "Little Heathens" is a compelling memoir of her hardscrabble life on an Iowa farm during the 1930s. With no electricity or indoor plumbing and with little heat or money on the farm, Mildred learns to find joy in the priceless blessings of life.

» see all 4 descriptions

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