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The summer of ordinary ways
Nicole Lea Helget
Adult Nonfiction CT275.H526 A3 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Helget's debut begins with a staggering example of her father's brutality: he mercilessly beats a cow to death for not weaning her calf. Yet Helget refuses to succumb to a "woe is me" attitude, and she layers vignettes to create a lyrical story of growing up on a Minnesota farm in the 1980s, where her mother verges on insanity, her five unruly younger sisters get underfoot, and death is a familiar part of life. The memoir's charm lies in Helget's dulcet use of language; even as she describes the century-old death of a little girl accidentally buried alive, her words sing: "Colors explode behind her lids, the colors of poppies and apples and straw and cantaloupe and leaves and Monarchs and stars and sky. And yet... she struggles to open her eyes.... it's black where she is." The amalgamation of reminiscences appears random until the final piece, in which Helget weaves an account of her child self with that of her adult self, providing context for the previous memories. Pregnant and married at 19, lonely and isolated, Helget tantalizes with a brief peek at her adulthood, but it's enough, because the glimpses into her younger life so satisfyingly explain who she has become. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Watching her father kill a dairy cow with a pitchfork is one of many memories Helget (winner, 2004 Speakeasy Prize for Prose) recalls in her first book, a memoir of her childhood. Readers will find her experiences growing up on a dairy farm the eldest of six girls a very humbling experience and will feel the children's pain as Helget recalls them watching their father come home drunk and in a rage, shoot all 13 of their puppies, and eventually leave them; and their mother always pregnant and angry and burning all of dad's things. Also scattered throughout the book are recipes for corn whiskey and dandelion and rhubarb wine. Though seemingly sad and absurd, this story revolving around Helget's childhood and eventually her dealings with her own family as an adult is actually very heartening. Recommended for all public libraries.-Tina Stepp, Henerson Cty. P.L., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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