He Called Her “Hat” by Myron McDonald

He Called Her ‘Hat’…is the transcription of a memoir by Myron McDonald that he wrote about his childhood, but most importantly, his grandmother.  It begins with a foreward by the editor, Dorothy May Mercer, who explains that she left most of the manuscript as she found it because she did not want to destroy Myron’s voice.  This memoir is a first-hand account of life in a different era as well as a character description of one of the strongest women in Myron’s life.

Each chapter of the book describes a different aspect or different event in Myron’s life…all related to his grandmother.  He describes life on the farm during the harvest, the first appearance of the Model T, and even some social aspects of his grandmother’s time, the early 1900s.  His portrait of Hattie is one of deference, love, and humor.  He describes her as a woman whose second husband is twenty years her junior, and yet she has the vitality to not only keep pace with him, but surpass him a time or two.  Throughout Myron’s tale, the reader learns that his grandmother is full of strength and dedication; she is a woman who was brought up to take care of herself and those around her.

The stories that Myron relate are varied. Some are humorous tales, some are descriptions of hardships, and some are downright emotional.  Although it is a short novel, by the end, the reader is so familiar with Hattie that Myron’s last chapter provokes a strong reaction.

He Called Her ‘Hat’…is not a traditional novel.  It reads as a memoir, but the stories do not seem to be in any sort of chronological order.  It is not a narrative per se, but a character study of Myron’s grandmother and an account of her life as it intertwined with his.  As a result, the novel is choppy and sometimes hard to follow because the reader wonders what pertinent details he may have missed between years.  Also, some of the vocabulary is old-fashioned, which can be difficult to understand, but ultimately adds to the feel of the piece.  Overall, the reader will enjoy this manuscript as it is a first-hand historical account with a vivacious, strong female lead.

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