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Every so often, Sandy gets a phone call from someone she once knew, someone she grew up with, went to school with. She grew up in Frost, Texas, a farming town. She has kept in touch with a few people, but hasn’t heard from most of them in many years.
Why are they calling? Because Sandy’s book, Beside Myself, is getting passed around and read by a lot of people from back home, from back then. Some of these people are mentioned in the book, a memoir of Sandy’s childhood growing up on a cotton farm. Reading the book brings back memories. And Sandy’s portrait of Frost, a small, small town, is so full of fond reminescences, such a warm and loving collection, that I am sure everyone who grew up then and there, in that time and that place, feels great pride.
Lots of people talk about the good old days, when things were better, and simpler. Sandy Moore was raised in a community and by a community that proves that sometimes, cliches are true.
Written in the vernacular and from the perspective of the little girl who loved fishing and hated Toni home permanents, who loved animals better than people, this very funny, at times very revealing, and always moving book gives us all a chance to recall our childhoods along with the girl who grew up to be an artist, a lifelong lover of all creatures, whose gentle heart is laid open for us on every page.
Filled with hilarious and true stories, as well as photographs and original drawings, this book is a treasure, I am certain, for all the people who grew up with Sandy, who remember some of the incidents in the life of their town that are brought to life vividly and with genuine skill.
Kittens, dogs, pigs, fish, sheep, horses, bees, mules. Tractors, wagons, revivals, baptism, plowing, planting, havesting, singing. Britches that are too big, dresses that are too confining, digging worms, learning tennis from a book. Black Shane of Russia. The Duet Plus Mama. Bible Lessons. Horse Shoppin in East Texas. All these stories stand alone, and yet build toward something more than random recollections. The artist, a grown woman now, is painting a picture for us, with subtle brush strokes, with caring hands, with sharp eyes and a marvelous sense of fun.
Beside Myself offers an engaging look inside one family, the Strains of Frost, Texas. Through the eyes of that little girl who speaks to us as directly as only a child can, we see an intriguing family dynamic at play. We come to know Daddy and Mama and Rose, so that by the end of the book, tears and laughter compete. That is an accomplishment. This very personal memoir is also a testament to that town, that small place, but so big.