She Come By It Natural

by SARAH SMARSH

You don't know what you don't know...until freaking Dolly Parton (and Sarah Smarsh) tells you.

My, oh my, did I need to listen to this book. As we round the final corner of the 2020 election season and the world sits on pins and needles with our absentee ballots submitted and our soothing whale songs quietly pouring out of our earbuds. Over the last six months, America has been overwhelmed by information -- we consume so many facts and numbers and arguments, most (if not all) of which are shouted at us from our televisions, instagram videos, and podcasts. Regardless of which opinions your information is promoting, I think we can all agree on one thing: Our hearts (and our ears) need a break.

 

Enter -- Sarah Smarsh's She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs.

 

In this pocket-sized book, Smarsh shows us a side of Parton readers like me have never seen. I grew up being vaguely aware of Dolly Parton. I'd never heard her music because I was strongly opposed to country music, I'd seen enough pictures to know that her boobs were big and her hair was bigger, and I knew using her name was an easy way to end a joke about someone's appearance. After reading Smarsh's beauiful and tender-hearted account of Parton's early career and how the singer influenced the life of her grandmother and Appalachian women like her, I was downright ashamed.

How did I grow up without knowing about this strong, fierce woman?

 

I recognize that I am LATE to the game...those of you who have loved Dolly for decades are probably reading this thinking Yeah, we already knew she was awesome. She's been a glorious feminist/singer/advocate since 1962 *eye roll* With that being said, this book is not just for people like me who genuinely needed a history lesson to understand the impact of Parton's career. This book is for everyone who has ever been told they weren't good/strong/pretty/smart enough to achieve their dreams.

 

If there is one thing I'm taking away from Smarsh's book, it's that this world is made for dreamers like me, like Parton, like Smarsh, and like you. I can't wait to gift She Come By It Natural to the women in my life who have helped me pursue my dreams and who have yet to pursue their own.

Dolly Parton: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Heartland, Girl in a Band

Physical and emotional abuse by a spouse, and abandonment are discussed - some using strong language/descriptions

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