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For many white Southerners, growing up in rural Mississippi during the 1950s and early '60s, life was anything but moonlight and magnolias. In this collection of nonfiction short stories and vignettes, the author reminisces about life among the poor whites of the American South, a population often overlooked in literature in favor of coarse redneck caricatures or affluent whites and their African-American servants. Although these stories revolve around the author's family and neighbors, they are representative of many Southern families of that era. The Flaherty children had a hardscrabble upbringing, as their mother struggled to support the six of her nine children who remained at home after her husband's abandonment. The reality depicted is a stark one in which race, economics, and religion figure prominently. And yet, at the core is a heartening message about sheer determination and the strength of family. The tale begins with the unlikely pairing of the author's parents: bright, inquisitive Nellie, who married at fourteen and had her first child at sixteen, and Otis, whose quick Irish temper belied a deep intellect. Although sometimes told using humorous antecdotes, the author doesn't gloss over the hard truths of her family's struggles to survive and thrive.