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on 18 May 2015
“Weedmonkey,” by Lisa V. (Virgie) Proulx breaks your heart, then puts it back together again with its amazing candor and the triumphant spirit that built a successful life rather than accepting excuses for failure.
Virgie was born dead on March 17, 1929. After that, life got worse.
Virgie’s Cherokee grandmother brought her back to life. Her parents took her to West Virginia where her father became a coal miner. Virgie’s first memory of her mom was a brutal beating at age four that left blood oozing from her legs. That abuse began a lifetime of hatred and resentment. One freezing day, Lisa was locked outside when the bakery man came. She lit papers from the trash can to keep warm. Her coat caught on fire. Neighbors wrapped her in a rug and rolled her on the ground to extinguish the flames. Wanting revenge, she told her father what had happened. That was the start of her mother’s repeated affairs, one of which produced a lover’s child who was later kidnapped. It was also the start of a downward spiral that included move after move, and her mother’s attempted suicide and return to the family from a mental hospital with no memory of who she was or who they were.
Virgie lived through the great depression and hid from the Ku Klux Klan. Her beloved Cherokee grandmother died while her mother was still in the mental hospital. She and her brother were taken to a “house of horrors” where they were never fed and sometimes stayed outside with the dog in the doghouse for warmth. When their mother came back to get them a year later, they didn’t recognize her.
Virgie wound up taking care of her younger siblings. That included protecting her sisters from rape. She once beat a child predator with a coal shovel. Another time, she and her sister hopped a train to escape a rapist – then didn’t have enough money for the return fare.
Life was savage in poverty-stricken Kentucky. Virgie’s 12-year-old school friend was forced into prostitution by her mother. When the little girl refused, she was tied down to the bed. A string of men raped her every morning before she left for school.
Virgie suffered unimaginable humiliation whenever she liked a boy. He invariably wound up in her mother’s bed.
After their parent’s divorce, the children entered a bitter, hopeless world where Virgie learned that the only way out was to run. Virgie ran from the hills where a dad hit his son in the head with a piece of stove wood, then buried him out back. She ran from the hills where a heartbroken husband fed his dead wife canned peaches because she had craved them during pregnancy. Virgie ran from the hills where it was claimed a shape-shifting woman had turned into a cow and was eating a neighbor’s garden. He threw an ax at the cow. The woman was found dead with one leg cut off and the neighbor’s ax on the floor by her bed. And she ran to protect herself from a man who repeatedly attempted to rape her – then to kill her when she refused.
Virgie’s mom became a “weedmonkey,” the town prostitute. Virgie became a nursing student, wife and mother.
After she married, Virgie got a job at the “Washington Times-Herald” with Jacqueline Bouvier. Bouvier’s interviews included Pat Nixon, Vice President Nixon and Senator John F Kennedy. She covered Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation before leaving the paper to marry JFK.
The daughter of the “weedmonkey” fought a long upward battle. There were still fights ahead, but she had made it out of the hills. She didn’t make excuses; she made a life.
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on 17 August 2014
I kept thinking it would get better. The story itself has fantastic potential, but it is just so poorly told. It wanders all over the place and jumps from situation to situation and despite the whole thing being a harrowing tale of poverty and abuse, the narrator herself doesn't come over as a sympathetic figure. The grammar and sentence structure is dreadful and I certainly wouldn't recommend it.
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on 19 October 2013
found it quite hard to concentrate on this book , so to be honest ive given up on it for the time being
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on 13 September 2014
Sad story
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on 29 September 2015
Ok read
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on 13 April 2014
Took me a while to get through this book, expected more at the end. But it was a good read, fascinating how people libertine and what went on back then.
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on 15 June 2014
I read this book in one night, could not put it down, the story was unbelievable, the author a great writer of words and feelings. 10/10
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on 31 May 2014
Very good read didn't think would like it but couldn't put it down, I do recommend it, definitely worth the money
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on 12 August 2014
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