What makes Ludie extraordinary is her life—not as it is shaped by popular success, but as it is lived.
Award-winning author Cynthia Rylant weaves a novel told in verse. Set against the backdrop of her home state of West Virginia, Ludie’s Life redefines what it means to be a strong female protagonist. From the beginning, we get to know a character whose strengths are shaped by her perseverance: “Ludie was a beautiful girl, / saucy, some called her, / and she raised herself, / herself and her sister, Trula, / after their mother died.” Now,if you think this is a story of rags to riches, think again:
Ludie never learned to drive,
lived half her life
without indoor plumbing,
and knew the pain of being more
than the world would ever see,
knew the pain
of being bright and funny
and even philosophical
but without a brick house,
a college education.
Rylant follows Ludie’s life through marriage and motherhood, detailing the struggles of raising six children in a coal-mining town. This is not a story about going away to where “the grass is greener.” This is the story of a woman who chooses to stay. Rather than portraying a female who becomes a victim of circumstance, Rylant presents a protagonist who lives deliberately. For Ludie, being a wife and mother is not a societal obligation but a vocation. She chooses her life, and she intends to live it well.
As a young reader, I can relate to the restlessness that infuses the millennial culture. It’s refreshing to get to know a character whose strength arises from a place of contentment—a place of knowing oneself well enough to ease the burden of dissatisfaction.
Ludie’s Life gives readers one of the hardest pieces of advice to take: be yourself, and be okay with that. No matter where you are in life, and no matter what vocation calls to you, readers can take take a lesson from Ludie. – Joanne Mallari
Also available by Cynthia Rylant: Missing May; The Relatives Came; When I Was Young in the Mountains; Dog Heaven; The High Rise; A Fine White Dust; Gooseberry Park; Every Living Thing; Cat Heaven; Annie and Snowball; Mr. Putter & Tabby; Puppy Mudge Loves His Blanket; The Van Gogh Cafe; But I’ll Be Back Again; The Old Woman Who Named Things; The Great Gracie Chase; An Angel for Solomon Singer; A Blue-eyed Daisy; Henry and Mudge; I had Seen Castles; poppleton in Winter; Little Whistle; God is a Dog; A Couple of Kooksp; Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book; The Heavenly Village; The Blue Hill Meadows; Annie and Snowball and the Wedding Day; God Went to Beauty School; Silver Packages;Night in the Country; Old Town in the Green Groves; Good Morning Sweetie Pie; The Stars Will Shine; Give Me Grace.