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Monday, August 26, 2019

From Minnie to Marilyn to Author

Sometimes it seems as though all I do on this blog is talk about my book(s), but I guess that kind of makes sense since this is, after all, my book blog. Once in a while, though, for a change of pace I like to talk about someone else’s book. This is such an occasion.

Back in January, through the magic of social media, I got re-acquainted with someone I had not heard from or about since I was in high school with her. She re-connected with me because she had noticed that I had been writing and publishing books. Like a lot of people, she had been wanting to write her own life story. In fact, she had already written the first chapter—thirty years earlier. But like a lot of people, that was as far as she had gotten. If she was going to finish her book and get it published, she would need some advice and—I think perhaps more importantly—some encouragement. Fortunately for her, I could offer plenty of both.

Now, just seven months later, Marilyn J. Thomas’s labor and efforts have borne fruit. She has just published her memoir, which is called From Minnie to Marilyn. It tells her story from beginning to now, from her earliest memories in California to her current life in Oklahoma. And it is a rather extraordinary life. Born to a mother that could not care for her, she was raised by her grandmother, who passed away when Minniejean (as she was then known) was just a toddler, casting her into the foster care system.

As a writer, Marilyn has a gift for allowing us to experience the memories seared into her brain and to see events from her point of view in the relevant time and place. In spite of the serious disadvantages life threw at her early on, she persevered not only to become the first of her family to graduate from high school but to become one of two student speakers at her graduation ceremony. Her story is of particular interest to me not only because she and I come from the same place but also because it is fascinating to see rural California in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of an African-American. As it turns out, she also has a connection to my current home in that one of her great-great-grandfathers was slaveholder descended from Irish immigrants, so she is also Irish-American.

Despite her early educational success, much more lay in store for Marilyn—some of it happy, some of it harrowing. As she herself writes, “I had literally lived three lives in one. Yes, I had survived two marriages, the death of a child, and about three near-death-like experiences. I had lost two sets of parents—my grandparents, Mother Wesley, and my parents who raised me—but I felt that through it all I had been blessed.”

I am so proud of and happy for Marilyn that she undertook and completed this project. I know well from my own experience that writing a book is an extremely daunting task. When it is your own life story that you are telling, there is a major burden of dealing with feelings of vulnerability as you reveal so many details of your life—some of them quite intimate—for all to see.

A memoir like this is not only a lovely legacy to leave to one’s family (you can see four generations of Marilyn’s family on the book cover), but it can also provide an educational and thought-provoking experience for other readers as well.

Way to go, Marilyn!

You can find From Minnie to Marilyn on Amazon.com. You can click on this link for the paperback version , and you can click on this link for the Kindle version.

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