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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is something very special about the bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Irene spent her early years living with her grandparents, developing a loving relationship with her grandmother, or Gram. Born in a small town in the foothills of Vermont, at the beginning of the Second World War, Irene’s parents had to leave their daughter behind with her grandparents while they sought work elsewhere. It was a difficult time. But for Irene, it seemed perfectly normal. She had her loving grandparents and a best friend, Bessie, the cow she learned to milk every morning. Irene learned so much from her grandmother, but perhaps the most important thing she learned was love. As Gram said to her, “One of the most precious things in life is to be loved.”
Bettie MacIntyre’s creative nonfiction/memoir, The Hollow, is a charming look at a bygone era, a simpler life, and a loving relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. The plot develops from Irene’s early years through her growing up years as the bond intensifies. Irene learned so much from her grandmother, including how to read (Gram used the Bible to teach her reading skills). As she matures, Irene carries with her that special love her grandmother shared, as well as all the other priceless things she was taught. And then, when it comes Gram’s turn to leave behind her earthly body, Irene, saddened at the loss, knows what to do as she sits beside her dying grandmother: “We need to sing praises to make Gram’s passing a pleasant trip. She always says that singing is good for the soul.” This is a compassionate story, told with care and loving attention to detail.