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Cruel Harvest: A Memoirby Fran Elizabeth Grubb
Synopses & Reviews
One woman's gripping emotional, physical, and spiritual odyssey to find her shattered family-an amazing story of survival and reunion. Nearly half a century after the time depicted in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Fran grew up in a world of migrant farm workers little changed from what the Joad family endured in that timeless classic. Picking cotton and apples at age five, she has to endure emotional, physical, and sexual abuse simply to survive her nomadic childhood. During her young impressionable years, she witnesses bloody knife fights, overhears a plot to murder her father, and is devastated by the suspicious death of her baby sister. Dragged across the country in the mid-1960s by their sadistic, violent, alcoholic father, Fran and her sister live in abandoned shacks and under bridges at night. During the day the girls are forced to do backbreaking labor, picking whatever is in season. As Fran matures, horrific living conditions and unthinkable abuse do not diminish her determination to find a way to escape and she courageously risks her life to flee. As an adult, Fran yearns to find the only family she knew-a family torn apart by abuse, tragedy, and fear. Eventually, with the help of a loving husband, she tracks down the other members of her family. When they reunite, Fran knows that her healing journey has come to an end. Readers will experience the pain in one family's dark journey and then the healing, radiant light that shines through. They will be reminded that hope exists in even the most dismal situations and find courage to face the most daunting obstacles in their own lives.
"Grubb's memoir recounts her train crash of a childhood, a story that seizes the reader's attention the same way a roadside accident does. The ultimate meaning of what is beheld remains murky, although Grubb says she wrote her story because 'it's the beginning of healing for others.' Born in 1959 to a monstrous alcoholic father and a beaten-up, beaten-down mother, Grubb loved Mama but came to hate Daddy (the name clanks, just as it does in Sylvia Plath's poem 'Daddy') and to detest herself for it. He abused her and her sisters (he killed one) and sold her brother; he forced them into labor as unschooled migrants and guzzled their earnings. Grubb lightens these travails with words of faith and desperate prayers and with chapters of reunions with her lost siblings. She states facts without analysis; the chapter on forgiving her despotic father is shallow, a lesson little understood. She breaks the cardinal writers' rule by telling more than showing, and unintended bad grammar and poor editing spoil her memoir. Still, the reader can't look away. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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