Shake Terribly the Earth (Childers)

Sarah Beth Childers. Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2013. 224 pages. Trade paperback. $24.95.

Shake Terribly the Earth, an essay collection by West Virginian Sarah Beth Childers, captures essentials of the memoir genre and the central Appalachian multi-generational familial experience. Her prose shines in essays like “Ghost Siblings,” which centers on the fascinating subject matter of how the author’s family, and her mother in particular, cope with the loss of a child from an ectopic pregnancy. Her mother imagines this child (“‘It’s a boy,” she breathed… ‘God told me his name is Christopher Michael and, my darling Sarah Beth, he looks a lot like you’”) at various stages of the author’s childhood, on road trips, and at school.

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Beth Newberry is a writer and editor living in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work has been published in Sojourners, Still: The Journal, and The Louisville Review. Her essay “The Center of the Compass” was named a notable essay of 2010 by Robert Atwan in the 2011 Best American Essays. She writes at

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