In Gratitude to My Guardian Angel
by Theresa Patnode

"I like talking to my angel because there are a lot of things I can't say to other kids, my mother and father, or any of my brothers and sisters."

This is a one-of-a-kind memoir on Theresa Patnode's childhood. Patnode tells of a time growing up in a large family—the fifth of twelve children—within impoverished means on a farm in the 1930s. A life filled with plenty of farm chores laced with hardships and blessings, Patnode's eye-opening account captures what life was like in a world driven by church-imposed teachings of good and evil—a world quickly evaporating in America.

First time author Theresa Patnode pens a historic collection of stories. Patnode's first person narrative features a much younger version of the acclaimed humanitarian novelist. Now in her 70s, Patnode scripts her text to reflect the mindset of a girl in grade school. Frequently rabbit-chasing to include a memorable tidbit here or there while keeping to each chapter's thematic structure, Patnode offers readers detailed descriptions of her world growing up on the northern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in Ellenburg, New York. Patnode not only captures the ins and outs of farming, but also how home life and schooling are directly connected with the Catholic Church.

Patnode speaks on a multitude of subjects. Topics includes one-room schoolhouses, traveling libraries, Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs, and family dynamics—to name a few. A large portion of her narrative is replete with meticulous descriptions of farm life, such as haying, chickens and skunks, canning tomatoes, maple sugaring, as well as detailed (gory) descriptions on pig and chicken slaughtering. Yet amid the various topics, Patnode constantly punctuates her text with her childlike viewpoints (and confusion) on heaven, hell, and sin. Of importance is her gratefulness to commune with God and her guardian angel—her means of escape to the constant tension at home. In Gratitude to My Guardian Angel is a great addition to local and US historical collections!

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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