Michelle Dobbs knows how to bring a story to life. Her words paints pictures of vivid and colorful characters as she follows the life of her Grandmother, Lilly Moore from childhood through marriage and beyond.
Dobbs captured the speech pattern of her Grandmother and others who lived and grew up along The Rock Island Line. The only other books I have read where I thought the writer captured the speech pattern of those they were writing about are Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and George Burns in Gracie: A Love Story.
Dobbs labeled this book as historical fiction, however, I would label it as historical narrative non-fiction because the book is based on Lilly Moore’s life. While Dobbs did research to describe the clothing and shoes during each era, the stories were Grandmother Lilly’s memories.
Dobbs’ interview questions to her Grandmother, brought out family members such as Uncle Pearl and Aunt Maggie who end up playing a prominent role in the story. Then there is Lilly’s best childhood friend, Lois, who is an American Indian.
The Rock Island Line is full of family traditions, culture and diversity.
All through the book was the mention of chicken: fried chicken, chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings. The way Dobbs described each meal made my mouth water. I could taste those chicken and dumplings and kept saying to myself, “Dobbs should have included the recipes.” I Then behold, at the end is the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings.
I am giving The Rock Island Line: Conversations over Chicken and Dumplings 5 stars.
I would recommend this book as a resource tool in African American studies, history of Illinois and history of railroads. It would also work well in other areas of American History.
* I was provided a copy of the book for an honest review.