Review: Running on Red Dog Road

by ggeurs

This is a review of Running on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer.


Here is Running on Red Dog Road in one sentence:  Berkheimer writes about her formative years living in a modest, borderline impoverished working class family in rural West Virginian Appalachia in a way that while very quaint and folksy, strikes the reader as anything but quaint and folksy. Berkheimer presents her experiences in an honest manner where the good moments shine with brilliant clarity and the dark moments are not sugar coated. This is a book anyone with a curiosity about life in the early-mid 1900s and/or life in Appalachia should read.

Berkheimer presents her childhood as almost picaresque and Tom Sawyer like. She paints a visual picture of what it is like to be a mischievous girl with a caring family, both getting into trouble and turning to the family for comfort after the fact. Throughout the book though, it seems that four things are a continual part of Berkheimer’s life: family, hard work, faith, and death. The matter-of-fact nature with which she presents it all helps the reader to understand that it is all just part of the big picture, nothing more.

I do not have any negative critiques on this book. It is what it is. This was a genuinely good book. One gets the impression that the reason Berkheimer can present these stories with such precision is because they are her identity; through her writing she presents herself. The only way to understand what I mean is to read the book.

I received a copy of the book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.