Remember idyllic small town Mayberry? Imagine a town even smaller and put it in Texas. Deep in the heart of Texas.
Imagine the small local school, a nice small town man its principal. The Baptist church where he sings in the choir. Now imagine his little blonde daughter who also sings in the church choir.
Slam on the brakes. Wait. Now imagine that his little blonde daughter is a lesbian, ogling the other little girls.
This is WordPress blogger Sheila Morris’ coming-of-age memoir, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing.
Sheila writes the blog, I’ll Call It Like I See It. Her rescued Welsh Terrier, Red, writes another blog, called Red’s Rants and Raves. I read both blogs, but I admit I have a real affinity for hilarious Red and his worldview–admittedly one low to the ground.
By reading Sheila’s book I’ve gotten to know her better. I was surprised to learn that she came from such a small town–one so small I can’t even imagine living there. Even the food seems different from what I am used to. Take Ma’s (her paternal grandmother) fried pineapple pies. They sound a bit like turnovers, and they clearly are delicious.
This book was a comfortable and enjoyable read. The main tension was young Sheila’s attraction to other girls in the midst of that tiny town and the Baptist relatives. Three of her grandparents had a big hand in raising her, and she was obviously doted upon.
I’m not saying that there aren’t other negative elements that occasionally pop into view. The racist viewpoints of one of her grandmothers, for instance. Her disconnect from her mother, for another. The beloved grandmother she shared a bedroom with losing the last part of her life to serious depression. But she paints the story with a loving wash that makes her childhood seem as if it’s ideal (if only there wasn’t this huge secret that she carries and doesn’t understand).
The structure of the book is different. In fact, I’d call it a book of short stories–each one in the genre of memoir, but each one holding its own as a story. Frequently the end of a chapter (or story), brings that particular story to a conclusion, then the next chapter will zip back in time and pick up just a little later than the previous story began. I thought this was interesting because I have a chapter that necessitates a flash forward, and I couldn’t figure out how to work it in with the rest of my book. But maybe it takes another “rethink” about structure.
This book is as charming as life in Mayberry.