Nothing in life comes easy. A statement that rings with the upmost of truths as various people face various struggles life throws at them on a daily basis. Life is not all about the struggles, though. There are the times of happiness when good things occur to re-energize the soul and keep people prepared to face the next struggle life readies to throw at them. Self-published author Donna Mabry shares one such roller coaster life in her non-fiction novel about her grandmother, Nola Maude Clayborn: Maude.
Mabry takes her readers throughout her grandmother’s entire life in her book. Maude shares the life of a woman who endured so much in her life, and yet, through every high and low event, Nola Maude Clayborn (or Maude) never lost her faith and kept going. Officially beginning with Maude preparing to be married at the age of fourteen, readers discover what one lifetime can truly house and will follow Maude through major and minor events in her life. These events range from being told what to do all the time to a lazy husband everyone loves except for her to finding the strength to even enduring tragic historical events such as The Great Depression.
Hearing someone’s life story may seem boring, but Mabry does an outstanding job at keeping the readers entertained and well-informed. The format of Maude reads just like that of a story. It is told in the first person, as if Maude were the one telling the readers her own story. One could even imagine while reading how Mabry must have felt while writing this story; as if her grandmother were sitting right beside her, telling her all of her life stories over and over again. It is stated even before the story begins that Mabry fictionalized a small portion of the story and some parts she relied on memories to write; however, even with this knowledge, it does not take away from the story for readers will not be able to decipher the few parts that are made up.
The story is told in chronological order and reading the events of Maude’s life in order eliminates any questions of who the characters are and the different events that occur. The attention to detail, for the most part, is well-executed, giving readers a good visual; however, there are times when there is hardly any details (points in life that Mabry skims through to keep the story moving) and then there are times when there is too much information, with every minute detail expressed when it does not need to be. On top of following Maude’s story, readers will also be taken through life changing and well-known historical events such as World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II. While reading about familiar information learned in school and through other means, readers will learn more from another life that was affected by these events and how she got herself and her family through it all.
Upon completing Maude, readers may feel somewhat upset. This woman endured many wonderful things in life, but there seemed to be double the amount of tragedies that happened to her. She was a good Christian woman, always faithful to her husband and to God, always loving of her children and her friends, and yet, tragedies seemed to strike one after another. Maude’s life was truly life at work: terrible things happen and wonderful things happen, it all just depends on how one faces both the good and the bad. With Mabry telling her grandmother’s life in story form, it feels as if Maude is alive and telling the story directly to the reader. Maude is an intriguing piece of non-fiction that should not just be told to readers, but rather experienced by the readers themselves for the words Mabry writes about her grandmother are beautiful and describe an equally beautiful woman, both inside and out.