Novel about childhood in the American South
January 15, 2013 1:19 PM   Subscribe

What was this young adult (or children's) novel I read about a girl growing up in Appalachia or the Ozarks? It might have actually been two different novels.

I would have read this book (or books) in the mid-80s to early-90s. I'm pretty sure it was all one book but it's possible it was two I'm conflating in my mind. What I remember:

- The main character was a young girl (maybe around 10-12), dirt poor, living in a small house in the Appalachians or the Ozarks.
- She's the only girl in her family (I think) and resents how much of the housework she has to help her mother with.
- There's one memorable scene where she's spent all day working hard and gets angry that her brothers get the first choice of meat at dinner, since she's the one who cooked it. She has an outburst and gets in trouble.
- Possibly as a result of this outburst, her parents decide she needs a break and send her to stay with city cousins, maybe in New Orleans or Atlanta. They are very glamorous to her. Her female cousin (aunt?) has never been awake early enough to see a sunrise, but has been told it looks like a fried egg.
- On her way to the big city, she shares a train with a group of soldiers headed off to war (WW2?)
- She and her classmates have to help with a cotton harvest (maybe because of the war) and get in trouble for jumping all over it (this is what makes me think I'm thinking of two different books, since AFAIK, there's never been a lot of cotton growing in the Ozarks or Appalachians).

I've tried just about every google search with these concepts and so far, nothing. Does anyone else remember reading this book or books?
posted by lunasol to Media & Arts (15 answers total)
Is this something by Lois Lenski? She had a whole series about children growing up in different parts of America. I definitely read Strawberry Girl and a couple others in elementary school and some of what you're saying sounds familiar.
posted by leesh at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Possibly Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and its sequels (young girl in Mississippi, time in the city, beginning of WW2), but a lot of the details don't match.
posted by dd42 at 1:25 PM on January 15, 2013

It's not Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - that's the 30s, and about a black girl whose family are not rich, but not hungry, and she never goes to the city (her cousin from the city visits instead).

Sorry I can't be more help - I just keep thinking of books that it isn't.
posted by jb at 1:31 PM on January 15, 2013

Where the Lilies Bloom?
posted by lasamana at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2013

Response by poster: Definitely not Roll of Thunder, and I don't think it was Lois Lenski either.
posted by lunasol at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2013

Is it Ida Early Comes over the Mountain?
posted by whimsicalnymph at 1:42 PM on January 15, 2013

I definitely thought of Lois Lenski when I read this too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 3:13 PM on January 15, 2013

You may be thinking of one or more of Roger Lea Macbride's Rose Wilder series, which details Laura Ingalls's daughter's childhood in the Ozarks.
posted by coppermoss at 3:33 PM on January 15, 2013

I don't think it was one of the Rose books nor Where the Lilies Bloom. Rose was Laura and Almanzo's only living child and one of the plotlines of WtLB was that Mary Call didn't want her sister to marry the rich older neighbor.

I read all of Lois Lenski's America books and OP's plot description doesn't ring a bell for me wrt them.
posted by brujita at 3:39 PM on January 15, 2013

Those first three bullet points sound reminiscent of the movie Winter's Bone, which was originally a book (and is a film worth checking out).
posted by charlemangy at 6:14 PM on January 15, 2013

Okay, I was intrigued, did some research, and I think you might be looking for Ellen Foster.
posted by daisystomper at 9:53 PM on January 15, 2013

Response by poster: Wow, a lot of these books look really good, but none of them are the one(s) I'm thinking of. Darn.
posted by lunasol at 10:34 PM on January 15, 2013

Best answer: Might be Borrowed Children, by George Ella Lyon.
posted by unsub at 9:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, unsub, that's it! It's Borrowed Children! Thanks!!
posted by lunasol at 1:59 PM on January 16, 2013

Response by poster: I'll have to go read it now to see if it was all one book or not, but that definitely has significant aspects of what I remember, including the weird "fried egg sunset" thing.
posted by lunasol at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2013

« Older Love my new job but discouraged by closely knit...   |   Newbie: ski OR snowboard at Windham Mountain Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.