Hope For Carsonville
by Erin Q. Hartman

Arbutus Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-93-392601-8.
Reviewed by Sharon Blumberg
Posted on 06/07/2008

Nonfiction: Memoir

Erin Q. Hartman, author, was born in 1957 in the cozy ambiance of a home in Carsonville, which produces rich, childhood memories. Erin Hartman, one of twelve children, grew up in the home of a sick, alcoholic mother. But what Hartman's parents lack in material wealth, they make up for with family cohesiveness and love.

I was able to connect with this book on many levels. Like Hartman, I was born in 1957, so I have memories similar to those that she so intimately shares with us. Her language is so vivid that I found myself present in the lives of this quirky, yet loving and loyal family. Imagine attending church wearing toilet paper as a scarf on your head! Hartman sums it up: "What I love about Sunday dinner is that my father is home and we are truly a family. It doesn't matter how my funeral scarf looks or how stupid my sisters look with toilet papers on their heads. God knows we are doing the best we can." Hartman portrays well the awkward situations that surface through childhood innocence and harmless childhood pranks.

Although Hope (Hartman's mother) might not be considered the ideal parent by today's standards, the children find her loads of fun. A child at heart, she takes seriously her run for town council in Carsonville. Her values are rich as she teaches her children to help those who are less fortunate by inviting them in for a rich, home-cooked meal. In addition, she never runs out of resourceful ways to entertain her children, like "The Abandoned House Game," where she and her children try to imagine what took place within the walls of abandoned homes. She may seem outlandish, but her adventuresome spirit makes her the envy of Hartman's friends.

Hartman concludes her memoir in just the right way by celebrating joyful memories of the close-knit family's experiences. Some are poignant, but most are endearing and unforgettable.

Erin Q. Hartman is married and has three daughters. She is currently at work on her second book. Visit her website.

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