Top positive review
Gripping and fascinating; a book to return to
December 3, 2017
Though I usually place various cautions or warnings at the end of my reviews, in this case I think it is only fair to the reader to be forthright from the beginning. “Deliverance Mary Fields, First African American Woman Star Route Mail Carrier in the United States” by Miante Metcalf McConnell is a monumental work. Indeed, my Kindle (which presumably knows my reading speed) indicated at the beginning that the estimated reading time would be 13 hours and 48 minutes. To stay with this intricate and intimate historical biography requires genuine interest and commitment. Another concern is that the author uses absolutely authentic terminology corresponding to the disrespectful – indeed absolutely insulting – language used by most people of European ancestry in frontier Montana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to reference people of African American and Native American heritage. In addition, the author’s descriptions of the cruelty and abuse of Indian children perpetrated during the attempts to “civilize” them – while absolutely accurate – are not comfortable reading. Finally, she is brutally honest about the graft, dishonesty and hypocrisy of the "Christian" males in power, up to and including a Catholic bishop.
These things being said, the depiction of the life of Mary Fields is gripping and fascinating, and when towards the end the story involves the women’s and children's rights causes to which she was committed, it becomes intensely relevant and enthralling. In addition, McConnell’s descriptions of the hardships and challenges of life in Montana at the turn of the century, her fine touch with characterization, and her flowing prose are definitely enough to launch this story to the level of genuine literature. It is the type of book that I will return to from time to time despite its length simply for the joy and refreshment it offers.