Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review: Letter From Alabama, by David Workman

When I got this review assignment, I thought “Why not, I love to read!” and I was actually very, very excited to have a “real” book in my hands again. 
I made the switch to ebooks a while back for many reasons - with the constant moving that comes with the military life, it just simply means less boxes to pack and less luggage when flying back home.  However, I forgot how good it feels to hold a real book in your hands, to actually flip pages and of course the unique smell of books!
The book Letter from Alabama, by David Workman, has a beautiful cover that's not too thick, the pages are made from a great quality paper, written in a clear fond and a good letter size. The book is a little bigger in size than most other “real” pocket books I previously owned but not so big that it would be an inconvenience. The book has 212 pages.

When I first held the book in my hand I wasn't so sure what to expect from the story.
What I knew about it was:
  • It is a true story
  • There must be a very important letter involved
  • The author was very nice in the email communication
  • I was excited to read this book
The book starts with special acknowledgments which instantly lets you picture a large family full of support. The following page is the Table of Contents with all the chapters listed, etc.

The next page is Why This Story Is Written and I will quote it here because this is a beautiful, very short Summary of what this story really is about. This page set the entire mood for reading this book.

This is the story of a little boy and an infant girl abandoned, and of a family and complete strangers who acted to save them both.
It's the story of human failure, and human triumph.
Forgiveness and redemption.
This story is written as a testament to, and a prayer of thanks for, good and decent people everywhere who stand up for a child when they don't have to – when they have nothing to gain and perhaps much to lose.
It's a tribute to those who see the potential in a young person and give that person a chance to be the best that he or she can be. They are the heroes for whom this story is now committed to writing. 
David L. Workman
Olympia, Washington
United States of America
February, 2015

The book starts with a lot of very detailed explanations about connections between different people, different places, and moves. You will also find a lot of information about the different families histories and details about the situation back then which sometimes feels like history lessons. 

I really had a hard time to get through the first few chapters because to me it seemed confusing at times and it was just SOOOO much information and history. It also included many dates and information about individuals. 

At the end of the book I realized that there are Maps and a Timeline Of Events in the very back which helps sort it out and clarifies it. 

The story itself is full of wonderful happy memories and at times very tragic and sad ones. I really enjoyed all the family pictures that were at the end of almost every chapter and the collection of family photos in the back of the book. 

I also enjoyed some of the more intimate historical details, such as an explanation in Chapter 4 of how cloth diapering worked a few decades ago.
What also deserves mentioning is the courage the people in the book show. There are a series of family difficulties that eventually lead to the disappearance of Davy (the author) and his father George - I will leave how that came to be as a secret for the reader. 

Going above and beyond to reunite; forming two wonderful families that connect in so many wonderful ways and share such precious – and sometimes sad – memories. 

The title has to do with a letter that was published in a local newspaper that led to relocating the missing Davy, but there is so much more involved in the story of this family.  The later chapters describe numerous people in the author's adolescence and young adulthood that help, in large and small ways, him to grow into the man he's become.

The descriptions are good but at times can be overwhelming.

My personal opinion about this memoir is that it is a great, very detailed travel back in time. The pages are filled with details over details. 

Even so, the story is also well written and the language used not too complicated. As someone with a limited vocabulary in the English language (my native language is German) and a high school reading level, I didn't have trouble reading and understanding the story. 
I found Letter From Alabama very inspirational, but at times the details were a little overwhelming. What I – personally – also didn't like too much was the mentioning of churches and religion, which happened quite often. That said, I am sure many others would appreciate that greatly and I do realize that this is an accurate reflection of the culture the author and his family lived in, as well as an important aspect of many of the author's likely readers.

Overall I liked the book. 

Generally, I am more the fantasy fiction kinda person rather than nonfiction memoir, but Letter From Alabama was good read, and I would recommend as a book for people who seek inspiration, who enjoy books based on true stories and who need a reminder that there are still good people in this world who selflessly do good to improve someone else situation. Who doesn't need that now and then?
This book is also a good reminder for what family and community are about – sticking together and loving unconditionally.




  1. Patricia, thank you so much for this review! This book sounds like it is right up my alley (I love historical novels and non-fiction memoirs.)

  2. Sounds like a nice feel good book :)

  3. Inspiring stories that are true do interest me. I would probably find this a good book for the winter to read.
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  4. It sounds like a very good book. Thanks for sharing your review at the Over the Moon Link Party.

  5. Patricia, I am a geek for books too, the look, feel and the smell. I love the smell of a new book. In fact, I'm kind of a geek for history too. This book sounds like it would be right up my alley, the ups and downs would keep you in the story til the very end!

  6. It sounds like a great book, I will look for it. thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

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  10. meta designs Patricia, I'm a nerd for books as well, the look, feel and the smell. I love the smell of another book. Truth be told, writers of usa I'm somewhat of a nerd for history as well.
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