Author Drema Hall Berkheimer depiction of life in Appalachia shows the innocence and simplicity of life that seem to have been lost over the passing years. Running on Red Dog Road chronicles the author’s childhood in 1940’s West Virginia.
Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940’s Appalachia after her father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema’s coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, poetry-writing hobos, and traveling carnivals, and through it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own.
I loved the people in this book, I was drawn into the story and felt like part of the family. Grandma reminded me so much of my grandmother, I could at times hear her speaking the words (usually the scolding), as I read the book.
“Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it red dog. Grandma told me, Don’t you go running on that red dog road. But I do.”
This was a delightful book saturated with detail that took me back through memories of my childhood.
Running On Red Dog Road is proof that truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to life and faith in an Appalachian childhood.
Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.