The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A terrific book! It's the 1970's, in a small Tennessee mill town. Emmalee Bullard is an unmarried mother trying to raise her new infant in the unheated tar paper shack she was raised in. The Bullards are considered "white trash" by the townspeople, and her father goes out of his way to alienate anyone who tries to offer them assistance. Emmalee's hopes for a better life are raised when Leona, a woman from the mill where they work sewing collars onto dresses and shirts, offers her and the baby a home. Her hopes are dashed when Leona dies in a tragic accident. Emmalee feels the only way she can honor Leona is by sewing her a dress to be buried in. Emmalee's stubbornness in pursuing the task changes her from someone who allows life to batter her into someone willing to make her own future. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. Emmalee is a compelling character as is Leona, whose own story is told in flashback. It's a hopeful story too, despite the bleakness of Emmalee's circumstances. The author captures the complexities of life in a small town well too.
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