Picture this: the year is 1974 (yeah, yeah--I know I'm old) and a 13-year-old, highly hormonal me plops herself down in a darkened theater. The movie starts and it's beautifully filmed and it's all about a culture I don't know anything about and it has a father and his four children struggling to make ends meet in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. And then the dad gets sick. And dies. Hello. I'm crying already. And the movie has hardly started. So of course I had to get the book when I found it in the bookstore.
"Where The Lilies Bloom" by Vera and Bill Cleaver is the story of what happens to the Luther famiy. Because the oldest sister, Devola, is "cloudy headed," father, Roy asks his next child, 14 year old Mary Call, to make take care of the family after his death. He makes her promise to keep the children together, hold onto their home, and to keep Devola from marrying Kiser Pease, their landlord. While Roy is ill, Kiser also becomes ill and Mary Call is able to basically barter his care for the deed to their home and land. Then she finds a book on "wild-crafting" left by her mother. This enables the children to use the wild herbs they pick on their property to sell in town for their medicinal properties. It seems the children will be able to make it on their own after their father dies until they discover that Kiser never owned the land they live on, his sister does. She turns them out and the children are left to survive the winter in a cave. And, yes, I did cry while I was reading this book. Even though I just told you yesterday that I hardly ever cry during a book.
The movie starred Rance Howard (father of Ron Howard), Harry Dean Stanton, and Jan Smithers, who would go on to play Bailey on WKRP in Cincinnati. Which, of course, many of you have never heard of because you weren't born yet. But trust me, it was a huge t.v. hit. Sadly, this is another movie that can only be found used. It really is a timeless movie, that, like the book, is a wonderful story for young adults.