Although I appreciate the history and relevance of this book, I did not care for the writing style. Reading it felt laborious to me, like a text book assignment. I plodded through about half of the book before returning it.
This is a fiction story of a true event. Set in America in 1929, the event is a mill strike in Gaston County, North Carolina. Ella May a single mother of four, with one on the way is working 6 days a week for a pittance, living in a hovel, with pallets for beds & a tiny amount of food. She goes to a meeting about getting better working conditions & nothing is ever the same for her again.
Mr Cash is a very fine writer but I thought there were to many different people sharing their point of view in this story. I still thought it was a good read but may have been a fantastic read if there had only been 3 or 4 people sharing.
This is a fictional version of oppressive labor conditions in N. Carolina textile mills in the 1920's; and attempts by the workers to unionize. The main protagonist is the Ella Mae, a worker/homemaker/mother abused at home and work, who, reluctantly, is recruited than
actively becomes the voice of the workers. While researching union history for this novel, the
author discovered a familial link to Ella Mae.
This is an important & informative story about union organizing in North Carolina. I did find the multiple POV's somewhat confusing.
Based on areal person, this novel takes the reader back to the 1920’s rural North Carolina where the poor are basically “owned” by the fabric mills. There’s no hope, only a bleak future. Ella May, a mill employee becomes convinced the only way out is to align with the Unions. Bleakness plus hope underlie the entire novel and create a picture of a strong-willed woman willing to fight for her future and those around her.
Gastonia! Charlotte! Statesville! Bessemer City! McAdenville! If you love reading fictional stories that places the reader inside North Carolina cities, then this title “The Last Ballard” by Wiley Cash is the right novel for you. The author takes the reader back to 1929 and introduces us to Ella May Wiggins and her discovery of Unions in which she haphazardly joins the movement to change the labor conditions of the mill where she works nights to financially support her four children. Despite Ella’s softs spoken demeanor, she manages to impress upon the rich and poor members of the Carolinas in a powerful way leaving behind an unforgettable legacy.
I became interested in reading this book when I heard Wiley Cash speaking at Verse and Vino 2017. The way he described the book made me want to read it. It's set partly in Bessemer City and Gastonia and surrounding areas, which made me happy because I live around these parts. But although I live around here, I knew nothing about the mill strike and Ella May. For the most part, I enjoyed this book, but I really wanted more from Ella May's perspective. I don't mind reading books with multiple POVs, but most of the book were other people's POVs rather than hers.
The storytelling was beautiful and sad. Ella May was such a strong woman who had to make a difficult decision about joining the union. The stories of people like her are often overlooked, so stories like these are important
Interesting historical fiction about the attempt to unionize the textile mills in 1929 North Carolina. Centered around mill worker Ella May Wiggins who lives in poverty with her four children and joins the union movement in hopes of a better life. The book jacket states it was inspired by actual events, but I didn't know that Ella May was based on a real person until I read the Afterward at the end of the book. A good story but it was put together in a confusing way with too many POVs (8, one of which went by 2 different character names). This is the 2nd book I've read recently with this scenario - If The Creek Don't Rise had 10 POVs. Really hoping this isn't a new trend with current writers as I am not a fan of this style.
Mayhap it's just me, hell it usually is. My mind is elsewhere these days. I have a Client I work with who has the schizophrenia and he always asks me if it's the end of the world soon? Depending on life circumstances I want to say, "No I have 50 more good years left in me," or "If only" or "It sure as Fuck feels like it sister." My mind is constantly drifting and dreaming these days, to fear, unimaginable sorrow, take your breath away panic, rage or blank numbness. I sometimes get off the phone with a friend and the only thing I can think of are Jerry Garcia lyrics like, "His friends were getting most concerned," or Robert Zimmerman's, "Yes I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke. You asked how I was doing, man is that some kind of joke." I thought I knew what desolation row was back in the 80's and most definitely in the 90's. Back then my life was akin to Jenny's in Forest Gump sans the stripping and unfortunately no Black Panther Parties. So maybe this was good or maybe I was just expecting to be blown away like a Land More Kind Than Home, but it came off somewhat trite and maybe sounding like he was trying too hard. I often wonder if these guys actually have these books in them or if they write out of contractual mandate. I do suspect that it has more to do with the material and writing in this case than my state of well being. Much like my second baby mama this piece just seemed to be missing a soul. Unlike her there is no threat of having your own soul taken by making eye contact with this book, which is nice.
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