Review of Running on Red Dog Road, Drema Hall Berkheimer, Zondervan, 2015
Running on Red Dog Road is a memoir of an Appalachian childhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Zondervan, the publisher, supplied this book in exchange for an impartial review. I am writing this review after completing only three-fourths of the book.
I really enjoy Mrs. Berkheimer’s style of writing as I find it comfortably familiar to my Appalachian ear. Her stories are a generation older than me yet I related to so many things she talked about either from the stories I grew up with or my own childhood experiences.
Unfortunately for a book published by a respected publisher of Christian books, she chooses to relate the four letter words she associates with some of her stories as well as pseudonyms for those words. I was overlooking this language as well as a youthful depiction of God failing his saints and continued reading until the author relayed her experience as a nine-year-old exposed to a nude man at a carnival.
I could appreciate an adult sharing such an experience in an attempt to protect other children or to work through a trauma. However, this story was only related as entertainment and I felt it was utterly out of place in a Christian memoir. It was the last part of the book that I read so I cannot say whether her faith grew with the years to understand the grandmother that she saw fervently praying even when she couldn’t immediately see the results. Nor do I know whether she suffered from these childhood experiences for no clue was given in their telling.
I am very disappointed that I cannot recommend this book to you as I long for Appalachian stories and authors from the mountains that will spread our culture and encourage appreciation for our people.