What happens when a genealogist turned writer takes on the world of fiction? You get a beautifully moving story that reflects the heart and soul of faWhat happens when a genealogist turned writer takes on the world of fiction? You get a beautifully moving story that reflects the heart and soul of family history, you get Finding Eliza, a book that belongs on every family historian’s summer reading list.
Once you pick up Finding Eliza you’ll be gracefully swept in to the world of Lizzie Clydell. In this beautifully written story about family secrets and the power they hold, Stephanie introduces us to Lizzie, a young southern woman struggling as she approaches the anniversary of the death of her parents. Her grandmother intervenes and introduces Lizzie to an old bible and a family secret that proves to be very powerful. Lizzie soon learns the cost her family bared during an epic time in American History of interracial relationships and 1930’s segregation.
Stephanie possesses the talent to transport us to another time and from the very first chapter you can taste the sweet tea and lemon bars while your feet are firmly planted in the red Georgia clay. Finding Eliza introduces us to charming relatable characters that Stephanie effortlessly brings to life on the page. It is the very characters of Gran and her gal pals and their strong-arming Lizzie into their genealogy group that convinces you; you’ve met these ladies before. I’m certain you’ll see yourself or maybe a fellow genealogist in the characters Stephanie lovingly calls “The Gals.”
Don’t confuse Finding Eliza with the influx of genealogical crime novels that are emerging almost daily. Finding Eliza while a genealogical mystery brings something different, a literary feel and a historical element that separates it from the other genealogical mysteries on the market today.
You’ll laugh and cry with these charming characters as Stephanie effortlessly transitions the reader from the present story to a turbulent and confusing time. Stephanie compels the reader to know more and keeps you reading as she moves you back in time through the pages of the family bible. While at times, I did find a disconnect with Lizzie’s outward reaction to news; at moments, it seems excessive, Finding Eliza is an engaging story with characters and a storyline that are relatable and compelling.
While this is a fictional story, Stephanie has captured what many family historians believe about their genealogy research, it has the power to reach out and teach us, not just about the past but about ourselves. Family history is not just about finding our ancestors in documents but finding a piece of ourselves in their stories, this is the soul of family history. Stephanie Pitcher Fishman delivers this message beautifully in Finding Eliza. ...more
When we write our family history stories, it’s important to tell our tales from a place of empathy. Sometimes, we have to w A Memoir with Many Lessons
When we write our family history stories, it’s important to tell our tales from a place of empathy. Sometimes, we have to wait to share those stories. Regardless of whether they are personal memories or they belong to our ancestors, the pain can often get in the way of recalling an honest account. A storyline that tells a difficult truth but does not live in a place of anger or revenge is key to telling true narratives that will resonate with readers. This very quality is demonstrated so profoundly in Bonnie Virag’s memoir, The Stovepipe.
Regardless of whether you are a family history writer, a memoirist, a family historian or you just love a good book you will discover honest and incredible emotions in The Stovepipe. This book will stay with you long after you have finished reading. You will think about these young girls over and over again, and it will certainly cause you to wonder if you really have anything to complain about in your life.
I was first introduced to The Stovepipe because it takes place in my neighborhood. The author, Bonnie Virag was born in Simcoe, Ontario. She grew up in the 1940’s and 50’s in the rural area of Southern Ontario known as Norfolk County. At the age of four, Bonnie was removed from her mother’s care by the Children’s Aid Society along with her twin sister Betty and two sisters and a brother. Their lives would intersect throughout the next fourteen years, as they became permanent fixtures and collateral damage of the foster care system.
In The Stovepipe, Bonnie recalls with great clarity her time in foster care until she is 19 years old. Please don’t let the subject matter stop you from reading The Stovepipe. It is the grace with which Bonnie handles this difficult subject that makes her book a fantastic read. Bonnie has found the most empathic and gentle place to tell her story. This memoir is not filled with revenge or hatred. While there are many painful moments in this memoir, the reader shares a wide range of emotions with Bonnie and her sisters and brother. You will laugh, cry, cheer them on and yes get angry, after all isn’t that what we want in a great book.
Bonnie’s healthy perspective with which she writes this book is a lesson to us as family history writers. Let Bonnie’s book be a wonderful example of how we can tell those painful stories.
This moving story of a young girl finding her way under very difficult circumstances; demonstrates the power of sisterly love and the will to survive with grace. Through this honest and stirring memoir, Bonnie not only draws from her own memories but also consults her sisters in the writing of this book and enlists the records of the Children’s Aid Society.
There are many lessons in this memoir, resilience, family love and of course, let’s not forget how we must do better for the children caught in the foster care system. For the family history writer, learn to tell and emotional painful story with compassion through Bonnie's example. Please read The Stovepipe. ...more
Check out my interview with the Denise Levenick, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. An essential book for anyone trying to organized their famCheck out my interview with the Denise Levenick, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. An essential book for anyone trying to organized their family stuff. Practical, hands-on advice, with checklist, cheatsheets etc. Denise helps you see the big picture without feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.
Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century is an epic portrayal of 100 years of family history mixed with 100 years of American history. ThOh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century is an epic portrayal of 100 years of family history mixed with 100 years of American history. There are so many wonderful things I can say about this memoir written by John Paul Godges. I related to the author's family narrative on many levels.
It was a worthwhile read however not as compelling a story as The Glass Castle. However, this book gives you a good perspective into why her parents wIt was a worthwhile read however not as compelling a story as The Glass Castle. However, this book gives you a good perspective into why her parents were the way they were. Read The Glass Castle first. ...more