One Good Mama Bone

One Good Mama Bone

by Bren McClain

Overview: A novel of courageous parental love and the instructive, healing bonds that form between humans and animals .

Faith Bowers (08/29/18): This is Bren McClain’s first novel. She wrote what she knows about, her hometown and cattle farming even though the novel takes place in the early 1950s.

This book is beautifully written, literary but still a great story. There are three voices, the narrator, the old mama cow, Mama Red and Sarah telling her story to Mama Red. It is a story of many friendships which are about giving to the other person. Deanna wrote a detailed summary of the book and I thank her for the recommendation.
Rating: ****

Deanna Boe (07/28/18): In ONE GOOD MAMA BONE we have an extremely poor family living in South Carolina, on a few acres of land. The alcoholic father, Harold, died a few months before, leaving the “mother” and a son to survive somehow. Unfortunately, they have many debts to pay. I have parentheses around the world “mother” because even though Sarah wears the title “mother” to the young boy, she is not his birth mother. We learn that after their neighbor went off to the military and war in Korea, his wife, Mattie – who had become Sarah’s only friend, was left alone. Sarah and Harold continue to have Mattie to their home for their usual Sunday evening meal they had been sharing for a long time. Eventually Mattie does not hear from her husband and soon the military support checks stop. She feels helpless. Harold takes sympathy on her and helps Mattie get a job where he works. Unfortunately, one thing leads to another and they have a “one-night-stand.” Ironically, Mattie gets pregnant. Immediately after the birth of her son, she commits suicide, now basically leaving the baby alone. Sarah knows it is her husband’s and has accepted that but she does not feel comfortable being the baby’s mother for a strange reason. While growing up, Sarah’s own mother told her that she didn’t have “one good mama bone” in her and Sarah had always believed that. So, when Harold dies, how could she possible raise the boy, known as Emerson Bridge? He is now around 10 years old.

Sarah reads in the newspaper how much money a boy made selling his calf that he had raised for his 4-H project; the calf had won top prize at the County Fair. Perhaps this is how they can get out of debt? Little does Sarah realize how much money it takes to raise the calf “correctly.” All the feed they will have to buy and time it will take grooming it. Naturally we need a villain in this story. The man who sells them the calf to raise has a special interest in these 4-H projects. Until this year, his older son had won the top prize for nine years. He is out for blood and determined his youngest son will not fail again and will win the prize.

Emerson Bridge named his calf Lucky. Lucky’s mother broke away from the field where she was kept and walked four miles to be close to her baby. Sarah insisted they buy the mother cow to be close to Lucky. Sarah’s buying this mother cow has the unforeseen result that proves she really does have “a mother bone” after all. Throughout the book, in italics, we have Sarah talking to the mother cow, and thus we learn what her past had been like growing up. This is a good book and enjoyable to read.
Rating: ***

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