Raised by hand, Lifted by The Tides: A Southern Child's Memoir
by Willett Thomas
When we first meet Lily “Lil Bit” Dalton, she is quite literally drowning. This “lip flapping” event, along with others, takes place in the quirky, yet racially divided waterway township of Arcadia, Florida in 1954.
In Raised by Hand, Lil Bit recounts the years between ten and thirteen spent in the care of the woman she considers to be her grandmother, "Bubbah," and this woman's alcoholic son, Bobby. As the story opens, it’s been five years since Lil Bit’s mama, Violet, “dropped her off like nothin’ but a bit of dirty laundry,” when on “Ditch Thursday,” Lil Bit is pulled from the river by Sheriff Marin. The Sheriff’s act of heroism leaves her not only with the secret of what lies beneath the water, but also with gnawing doubts about Sheriff Marin, “the only white man worth a damn in all of Arcadia,” who also knows the river’s secret, but tells no one.
Like the tales told by the young heroines in the classics To Kill a Mockingbird and the Secret Lives of Bees, Lily “Lil Bit” Dalton’s quest to reunite with her mother, while also keeping the secret of the Massaquatta’s murky depths, takes readers on a tumultuous ride filled with adventure and mystery. But more importantly, Raised by Hand answers the age old question: What does it take to be a family?
Lisa's Review - 3 out of 5 stars.
Raised by Hand, Lifted by The Tides: a Southern Child's Memoir is a story revolving around a family getting through life in a racially divided town in the 1950's. Based ona time when we were not all just people living together, but seperated in tow 'whites' and 'blacks'. Although told through Lily 'L'il Bit' Daltons eyes, there are also seperate peoples tales running through the book, giving a good feel of the community of Arcadia.
If I am being totally honest, although the wiritng is fantastic, capturing well the era the story is told as well, I found the first half of this book slow going to read. Maybe this was the style of writing used, trying to get the right terms used for a time I am unaccustomed with, maybe it was the questions that popped up all throughout the story that I wanted to be answered.
But reading on, the second half of the book picks up with speed, with the story line escalating, the questions I wanted answering becoming deeper, and to be answered fully at the superb ending to L'il Bits story.
The characters are so well written and come to life, and come together and show what a community they are.
The only problem I had with this book was that the first half seemed to take so long to get through, I almost put the book down, only later being thankful I hadn't once I read on and the story picked up. If the first half of the book had been slightly less drawn out, I would have enjoyed it more.