So, this book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, surprised me. A brother writes about a sister. It made me laugh and cry. Most of all, it made me think about family, my own sister, Nancy, one of the nicest people you could ever know. It made me think about things said and not said in families. And it made me think how many of us have tried to fly above our families, as if somehow we are better and beyond and part-but-not-part of our small hometowns.
Rod Dreher tells his story in a straight-forward way. He spent most of his life trying to escape his small hometown in Louisiana. Yet sometimes the very thing we’re trying to escape is the very thing we need the most. His sister, Ruthie, became ill. Very ill. But what he witnessed was a small town that rallied around her and the family. Inspired by how community made such a difference, as well as a desire to reconnect to a complicated father, he and his wife decided to move from Philadelphia back to Louisiana.
Not too many years ago I had a chance to move back to my hometown. I thought about it. Seriously thought about it. But in the end I decided I could not go back, but the pull, the call to go back home, is real and genuine. The hometown in our minds, however, is often very different from the real hometown. Yet, Rod Dreher made the decision to go back home, and the book ends with his re-entry into his childhood place as a grown adult.
Take a Breath today. It’s summer, and summer is the perfect time to turn off the television, pick up a book, and enjoy reading a good memoir or novel. I liked Dreher’s book: The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. More than a book about a sister, it’s really a memoir of a family, their triumphs and failures, and most of all, their moments of learning and coming together.