Soul to Sole: The Views from the Shoes
by Carolyn Evaughn Knowles

"Church shoes have their own story to tell: a tale of faithfulness, dedication, and commitment. On the other hand, school shoes many times revealed an edge of caution and low expectations."

Lucille was lucky to be born—her grandmother had already forced her mother to abort every time she got pregnant in order to keep her daughter working. Finally, though, the neighbors had had enough, and through their intervention Lucille was given the chance to live. Lucille’s journey from being an unwanted child in South Carolina in the 1920s to her roles as mother, caregiver, grandmother, and, finally, to one needing care, is just one of many poignant, true-life stories in this engaging collection.

Knowles, Lucille’s daughter and the principal author/compiler of this book, has gathered several distinct voices that offer unique insight into the lives of women from multiple generations. Using the metaphor of shoes to describe the various roles we assume as we grow and interact with others, her collection at first focuses on her mother, her daughter, and herself before branching out to include autobiographical insights from other women from different walks of life. Most share the attributes of being African American and Christian, yet their experiences still have a universal quality.

Some of the more fascinating parts of the book are the glimpses Lucille offers into Gullah life and idioms of the South Carolina lowcountry she grew up in. But the struggles and triumphs of others are also encouraging as evinced by the transparency Knowles’s daughter, Summer, and her former track coach offer in their separate accounts of the rift that developed between them after Summer’s high school injury. Deeply spiritual, honest, and thought-provoking, Knowles’s compilation of life’s “shoes” is a must-read in the area of women’s studies.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books

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