No More Hats
by V.M. Sojourner

"Mudear’s hats were displayed in the windows and on the floor of the pulpit and around. They indicated no more hats for Mudear to wear on this earth."

A woman's life is chronicled in Sojourner's tenderhearted novel. What sets the story in motion is a common struggle many families face today. Alana, a nurse and the eleventh child of Elsie Banks, contemplates the painful decision to place her mother in a nursing home. Elsie, affectionately known as Mudear (a nickname from her first child's inability to say, "Mother Dear"), is approaching one-hundred-and-one years of age. Alana loves her mother and dreads this onerous choice and discussion with her siblings regarding their elderly parent.

When Alana and her children visit Mudear in Louisville, Kentucky, she welcomes the presence of her fiercely independent mother with "millions of hats." From this visit, she and Mudear reminisce about her storied life, children, and faith. The narrative weaves Elsie's past with the present, a "storybook telling of her life as a young person," sometimes recounted by Mudear or told by Alana. Readers will recognize the numerous significant events as Elsie and her family celebrate her comprehensive life. Through her stories, Mudear passes on wisdom and life values to her younger generations.

Broken into three parts, Sojourner prefaces each section with biblical or inspirational quotes. While the book is well-written, the narrative can sometimes be difficult to follow when it switches from past to present and between Elsie and Alana's viewpoints. Overall, though, this is a sweet and sensitive story of love and the deep devotion of family and caring for aging parents. This empathetic tale celebrates the accomplishments and tribulations of one ordinary woman surviving through extraordinary times. It is a bittersweet reminder of the rich history we lose with the loss of our elderly loved ones.

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