The many trials in a woman’s life reveal God’s plan for humanity, according to this Christian autobiography.
Snyder’s (Define Crazy, 2009) travails began right after she was born, when her mother, Edna, faced a 1940s court to answer for having had a second child, a daughter, out of wedlock. She refused to reveal the name of the children’s father, a member of the Cherokee Nation who had abandoned her. Her son, Wayne, had been given to a cousin in Indiana. The court took Snyder from the hospital and told Edna: “You have six months to get married…or this baby girl will be put up for adoption.” Edna set out to find a husband by the court’s deadline. Just in time, she married Emmett Donnell, a polite and gentle sanitarium orderly, whom Snyder called “my guardian angel.” Their life together was loving and supportive but never easy, as health problems ran in the author’s maternal line, and the family faced hardship and poverty. After Emmett moved the clan several times to find work, 14-year-old Snyder finally lied about her age to secure a job and help out. Following Edna’s death when the author was 16, she was raped and impregnated by a seemingly friendly 51-year-old neighbor. This being 1964, no police were called, and Edna’s estranged siblings rejected Snyder, so she married her rapist, who subsequently abused her and even helped put her in jail. With Emmett’s assistance, she divorced her husband and worked to raise her son only to find “the love of my life” in her early 20s. Sometimes deftly evoking the Little House series, Snyder’s hardscrabble account is often intriguing, with black-and-white photographs of her family and some documents included in the book. Unfortunately, the terse prose leaves out many details: How could a marriage that produced a son be annulled? Why did an ambulance driver disbelieve he was transporting Emmett? The tacked-on reasons to accept Jesus are less compelling than the author’s vivid tribulations and triumphs. “Written for nonbelievers and those who doubt…miracles,” this earnest memoir doesn’t address atheists’ objections or engage the increasing number of people who eschew organized religion. After each harrowing experience, Snyder repeats her Christian training without sharing any epiphanies or doubts. In addition, she shows no curiosity about her Cherokee heritage.
Succeeds as a personal history rather than as religious testimony.