Mama Used to Say: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Joyce Digby Nelson

Mama Used to Say: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

A Legacy of Words Worth Preserving from One Generation to Another
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A daughter shares the sayings, idioms, axioms, and clichés of her deceased mother in this debut nonfiction collection.

Nelson appropriately has her own daughter write the foreword to her roundup of sayings from her late mother, Joyce Marie Ward Digby, providing tee-up testimony to these phrases’ intergenerational staying power. “They still catch me off guard and bring a smile to my face because I know I am experiencing my grandmother’s presence in my life through my mom,” her daughter notes. After her own brief overall introduction, dedication, and acknowledgement sections, Nelson organizes her mother’s sayings into 10 chapters that average about a dozen selections each and cover topics like “Some Exclusive Names” (the dreaded dismissive epithet “Dumbbell Lucy”), “Spiritual Connections” (the warning that “God don’t like ugly, and he’s not too crazy about pretty and cute”), insights to “Incite, Ignite, and Illuminate” (including “No one can ride your back unless it is bent”), and more. Nelson provides a quick introduction for each chapter and then contributes a couple of sentences of summary or analysis regarding each of her selections. For example, Nelson acknowledges that “Mama could be brutally blunt” as a lead-in to her “Expletive Not Deleted; ‘Parental Guidance’ Advised” chapter and admits her own admiring surveillance prompted Mama’s “I can’t flick a booger without you watching.” Nelson’s book should prompt chuckles of recognition from readers, since many selections will be quite familiar (including that mothers’ classic, “A man will not buy the cow if he’s getting the milk for free”). She is to be commended for her folklorist effort of collecting so many sayings, although it’s regrettable that commentary is kept to a minimum. One wishes for more details about this clearly colorful mother, where she lived, worked, etc. Still, Nelson has created a lovely keepsake that will no doubt be treasured by her own family and can be enjoyed by many other families as well.

An appealing peek into a parental personality and an amusing family conversation starter.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4575-4294-7
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Dog Ear
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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