About the book: In the backwoods of Mississippi, a land of honeysuckle and grapevine, Jewel and her husband, Leston, are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome. Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how, like lightning, an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass. In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.
First line: I was born in 1904, so that when I was pregnant in 1943 I was near enough to be past the rightful age to bear children.
My thoughts: This one has been in my TBR pile for a while. It was the story of an ordinary family facing hardships together. Though it was a heart touching story with lovely prose it was a slow read. There were a few high points of course but between them it was a long haul. I got to know Jewel, from whose POV the story was told, and her husband Leston. Even though Brenda Kay, Jewel's child with Down Syndrome, was the focus of their lives we never got to know her too well, other than as a burden. I wish there had been more moments that showed ways that she added to the family.
Jewel is realistic - it accurately reflects the attitudes towards minorities at the time as well as the lack of services available for people with disabilities.
Quote: One day they'd do the bolts, another day the nuts, then the bolts, then the nuts. Certainly there'd been joy in her accomplishing that much; she even brought home a paycheck once a month, always for some odd small amount, $7.31, or $6.96. On those afternoons, she came home waving the check, we'd go right down to the bank, cash it, then go to dinner at a Denny's or Sizzler, where I'd let her pay for her meal herself, though money still meant nothing to her, only pieces of paper, chunks of metal handed over to a smiling waitress.