A Little Way with Big Lessons | Christopher White | CWR
A review of Rod Dreher's The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life
At first it sounds like a familiar tale: a small-town boy eager to break free from his roots and follow the lure of city life. In doing so, he comes to reject much of his upbringing, and his new sensibilities distance him from his family and friends at home.
Plenty of memoirs and pages of literature capture similar stories. Yet for veteran journalist Rod Dreher, this narrative took an unexpected turn when his sister was diagnosed with cancer at age 40. In witnessing the tremendous outpouring of love and support from residents of his hometown, Dreher and his wife begin to rethink the significance of small town life and the value of the deep ties that can only be offered by neighbors and family members. And in seeing how his sister, an unassuming schoolteacher, courageously embraced her struggle with terminal cancer, he comes to understand that some of the greatest joys in life are the simplest ones that can be discovered close to home.
Already hailed by many critics as one of the most important books of the year, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life is a powerful reflection on the importance of family and community. Set in the Deep South, St. Francisville, Louisiana, Dreher’s account is an honest and very personal attempt to make sense of loss—not only of his sister, but of his own ambitions and desires. Yet, the intertwined story of Dreher and his sister is also a story of hopeful rediscovery and reorientation of life’s priorities.
At age 25 Dreher moved to Washington, DC to work as the television critic for theWashington Times, a job that he was sure would be his one-way ticket out of small-town America.