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Mama's Shoes

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  77 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
By the time Sylvia Richardson is eighteen, she has buried her parents; given birth to a daughter; and become a widow. It is 1942, and World War II has destroyed Sylvia's dream of dancing in red heels through life to the melody of a Hank Snow record. Instead, she is raising her daughter, Sassy, alone in the coal mining town she vowed to leave behind.

By 1955, thirteen-year-o
Paperback, 328 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Abbott Press (first published September 1st 2011)
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Mar 14, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sassy and Sylvia Richardson, the mother/daughter duo, are at the heart of this often troubled and depressing, but ultimately heartwarming tale set in the fictitious town of Coal Valley, VA. Being from a small town in Northern West Virginia, I identified with the pride, strength, and character that can only come from an industrial town.

While the author did capture much of the sense of place in Southwestern Virginia, there were times where it felt as though it was a bit forced. The dialogue proved
Jun 24, 2012 Salome rated it it was amazing
Captivating story with a great twist at the end. I hardly ever give 5 stars to a book, but this one definitely deserves it.

Harold Titus
Mar 13, 2012 Harold Titus rated it really liked it
Recognizing that I am a male, not having a direct appreciation of the mother-daughter relationship, not responding to the characters and plot the way I suspect many women have and will, not appreciative of every aspect of the book, I do believe that Mama’s Shoes deserves praise.

I liked how the author presented Coal Valley: the individual buildings, the beauty shop, the apartment, the ever-present coal dust, many of its people. Much later in the book she juxtaposed nicely the luxuriance of two su
Apr 26, 2012 NayNay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-fiction
MAMA'S SHOES is what I call a 'lazy read' curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and sit till you get to the very end.

Sylvia Richardson is eighteen, her parents are gone, she's given birth to a daughter, and is a widow. It is 1942, World War II has destroyed Sylvia’s dream of dancing in red heels through life. Instead, she is raising her daughter, Sassy, alone in the coal mining town she vowed to leave behind.
By 1955, thirteen-year-old Sassy has been brought-up on how to be a lady—even tho
J.S. Egan
Jun 04, 2012 J.S. Egan rated it it was amazing
A week ago, I had three favorite books: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, The House At Riverton and The House of the Spirits from my forty years of reading.

To this list I now add a fourth: Mama's Shoes.

It just has that special something that really made me fall in love with it. Sylvie and Sassy and Coal Valley are so effortlessly alive that I feel like I've known them all, all my life.

This is a book I know that if I live to be a hundred, I will never forget.

I received this from Ms. Elswick through a reviewing group on Goodreads.

It’s All About the Shoes.

Sylvia once told Sassy, “…when a woman puts on high heels, she feels like a lady,” and high heels show that “she cares about how she feels. She knows that when she puts on high heels, she’ll stand and walk more graceful.”

Mama’s Shoes is the story of a young widow and her only daughter. It wasn’t just about her shoes, but rather the life she led while wearing them. Her life was as colorful as her sho
Kimberly Hortman
May 30, 2013 Kimberly Hortman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I read this wonderful book this weekend! What an awesome first-reads giveaway:) It had such a sweet inscription by the author It will stay on my personal bookshelf. The characters were complex and easy to keep up with & the way the chapters were introduced you had no problem following which character you were reading about. My parents lived during this time & wonder if they had any of the same challenges? Well written & thank you so much if you are reading this Rebecca:)
Literary  Chanteuse
Jun 02, 2012 Literary Chanteuse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hens-lit
An amazing story of love. Not the usual type of love story between a man and a woman but between a mother and daughter. Very early on this book had me hooked. The writing is excellent. The characters are rich and touch you deeply with their emotions and hardships. A circle of strong women who all play and important role in each other's lives and who remind you to be proud of who are and where you come from.
May 30, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to author Rebecca D. Elswick and Good Reads' First Reads Giveaway for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

I found Mama's Shoes to be a beautiful and emotional tale of hardships and self discovery. The young women whose voices weave the story completely drew me in to 1950s Virginia and allowed me to feel their joys as well as their sorrows as they faced the task of growing up. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys beautiful and heartfelt works of literature.
Rita Quillen
Jul 30, 2014 Rita Quillen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much--great characters!! And certainly a scenario I can relate to in the sense that the young protagonist is a passionate reader/writer from the mountains who wants to go on to bigger and better things!
Pam Funke
Jul 25, 2012 Pam Funke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Book Synopsis:

By the time Sylvia Richardson is eighteen, she has buried her parents; given birth to a daughter; and become a widow. It is 1942, and World War II has destroyed Sylvia's dream of dancing in red heels through life to the melody of a Hank Snow record. Instead, she is raising her daughter, Sassy, alone in the coal mining town she vowed to leave behind.

By 1955, thirteen-year-old Sassy has been brought up on a stiff dose of Mama's lessons on how to be a lady--even though Mama drinks, s
Jun 08, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! What a beautifully written story! I'm just in awe of how moved I am from the characters and storyline of this book. The story is so simple but it is an intriguing, heartwarming, and emotional journey taken by a mother and daughter. It is a slow moving story at first and really concentrates on the build up. Once you hit the meat of the story it is, unfortunately, almost over. I was so enthralled by the story that I had no idea I
Jun 10, 2012 Peg rated it liked it
"Mama's Shoes" begins with a very young woman on her wedding day in the 1940s, a young woman who grew up in the hard world of a coal-mining town in the 1930s. The best part of the story centers on the beautiful but troubled Sylvia, striving to overcome life's harshness and raise the daughter she was so ill-equipped to mother. Sylvia's story is poignant and rings very true, as does the small West Virginia town painted in such loving detail by author Rebecca D. Elswick. Whenever I was immersed in ...more
Angie ~aka Reading Machine~
Sylvia Richardson is a widowed mother with a thirteen year old daughter named Sarah Jane who is called Sassy by everyone. Sylvia or Sylvie to her friends works in a beauty shop with her best friend Madge and beauty shop owner. Sylvie gives life lessons to Sassy about shoes and other things. Sylvie tells Sassy that you tell alot about a woman by the shoes she wears. Sassy loves to read and always has book with her. The story weave a tale of past and present beautifully crafted to show a mother's ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I love this novel! I won’t give away the “good parts,” so there are no spoilers here, but the story is wonderful. There are secrets hidden away in the past, tucked there like a note under a pillow, threatening to show itself, and the reader gets to watch in anticipation to see whether these secrets are revealed or not. There are the parts of the novel that made me nostalgic for my childhood. Growing up, I spent time in a beauty shop weekly when my mom got her hair done; the author describes the ...more
Adam Lawler
May 29, 2014 Adam Lawler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Mamma's Shoes. Losts of head nodding moments for me; yes, grandmothers did take their young grandsons to the beauty shop with them back in the late 60s. Nice twist to the story at the end, and, the more I consider it, the more plausible it is.

Let me say again, I really did enjoy this novel. There were, however, two small things that bothered me. The first is the overuse of similies. Sometimes a runny nose is simply a runny nose; it doesn't have to be described as 'flowing like a raging
Beth Bares
Jun 11, 2012 Beth Bares rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I absolutely love all things about this era which made Mama's Shoes even more enjoyable to me.

Sylvia, no doubt portrays more girls than we know, who are in a position that wants nothing more than to get out...

I loved her spunk, her patience, her courage, her selflessness and her strength. Seeing all of these characteristics through her twelve year old daughter's eyes was very unique and a wonderful idea. The love Sylvia's daughter, Sassy has for her mother is a non-con
Feb 14, 2012 Deborah rated it it was amazing
almost finished with Rebecca's first novel, Mama's Shoes. It is a great read - I love the young Sassy's voice - original but familiar. The story begins in a coal town in Appalachia (an area where I grew up) - anyone who grew up in 1950's Appalachia will recognize this little town. Sassy's mother, Sylvia, works in a beauty shop and, boy, do I remember those in Whitesburg, Ky. I can smell the concoctions for permanent waves and the cigarette smoke along with Sassy when she visits her Mama.

Nov 19, 2015 Deanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This writer has so much potential. Her characters in this debut novel are wonderful and her writing is very good. My disappointment in this book concerns things an editor should have caught. Minor typos, okay, not a big deal. But one character, Amelia, who seemed like she was going to be important, merely disappeared from the story, replaced by another friend. That friendship led to the climax that contained an unbelievable coincidence. There needed to be an explanation how Sassy became best fri ...more
Jeanette Hurrelbrink
Mama's Shoes

This was a nice story, but I felt there were parts missing. It was like the second book of a set. I wanted to know more about the characters who had passed away. I wanted to know more about Sassy after she discovered her mother's secret. How did Kitty feel about secret? What did Sassy study in college?
Sep 22, 2014 Melba rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Book lovers
This book was interesting and fun to read, and it was like being with the the characters in their life. The characters were vivid & wonderfully portrayed, so I could clearly see them in my mind as the story unfolded. If you enjoy reading, then I believe you would like this book; however, I know each person sees things differently, but this book is worth the read (in my opinion).
Elizabeth Jasper
Jun 07, 2012 Elizabeth Jasper rated it it was amazing
It took me no time at all to sink into Rebecca Elswick's story, 'Mama's Shoes'. Once there, I could hardly bear to pull myself back into my own, everyday life as I was so beguiled by the story of Sassy and Sylvia,her mother; Madge and the other characters inhabiting the fascinating world of the Cut and Curl Beauty Shop,and the wider world of Coal Valley.
Definitely a five-star read for me.
Rebecca Henderson
I absolutely love, love, love "Mama's Shoes"! I could hardly put the book down - I had to keep pinching myself as a reminder that the book is a novel, rather than a memoir. I'm looking forward to Rebecca Elswick's next book!
May 21, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book free on goodreads an i was not disappointed. This book was a beautiful coming of age book. The characters blended so well, I had a hard time putting it down the one night. I would recommend this book to any girl or woman over 12.
Ali Crain
Jul 17, 2012 Ali Crain rated it it was amazing

Excellent book.
Kelly Delph
Good book by local author.
Bobbi Smith
Jan 18, 2016 Bobbi Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!
Kim Setser
May 19, 2012 Kim Setser rated it really liked it
Being from Appalachia, and a fan of local literature, I can say you won't be disappointed with this one.
Dec 12, 2012 AR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I truly enjoyed this story, the pacing, and the regional color!
Sarah Drake
Feb 19, 2013 Sarah Drake rated it really liked it
An inspiring novel about survival, loss and love that comes in many forms.
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Connecting Reader...: Book Giveaway 1 12 May 28, 2013 06:02PM  
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Rebecca D. Elswick, the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, lives in the coalfields of Appalachia. She and her husband have three children, and at last count five dogs. Rebecca has an M.Ed. degree from East Tennessee State University and teaches English and creative writing. She is Director of the Writing Center at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA. Her short fiction has received ...more
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