A tumbled into this book without any knowledge of what it was about. I made the assumption that it was a fictional novel. It is not. What it is, is story of family through one simple object…told both through historical facts and speculation. Here is my book review All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles.
I have never visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. This Smithsonian museum was opened a decade after I last was in our capital. But this book alone has made me realize I need to put this museum at the top of my visit list.
A story told about a simple, embroidered, faded and worn sack. Miles uses the story of the sack (currently on display at the NMAAHC and on loan from the Middleton Family Plantation) to trace both facts and assumptions about the women whose hands it has passed.
Beginning in the 1850’s with Rose a slave and mother, to Ashley a slave and daughter, to Ruth the great-granddaughter who embroiders the reflective words onto the sack. “A tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, my love always…”. All a mother could offer a daughter. But through the sack their lives are remembered and these women’s stories are meticulously researched in All That She Carried.
But because slave records are often difficult to trace, particularly for women, Miles must use her wits and stories of other families and women to create a lineage of what may of happened along the way for the women and the sack. Miles takes the reader through the contents of the sack and we learn of history and family, slavery and sales, love and honor and the sheer will to survive through the story of the sack.
This book was not what I expected, but I learned a great deal and felt a emotional attachment to the generations of resourceful women. Thank you for reading my Book Review All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack.
****Four stars for All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles
Read last week’s review The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Clint Howard and Ron Howard
My current read So Young Brave and Handsome by Leif Enger
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