It’s a wonder she made it out of childhood in one piece. And with a brilliant attitude to boot.
Those were my first thoughts, coming with a nervous chuckle, after reading Helen Peppe’s Pigs Can’t Swim: A Memoir.
There are scenes of frigid winter trudges, of endless sibling taunts, of lonely, seat-of-her-pants learning.
Those riding moments will resonate with us horse lovers. In Chapter 16, she writes of solo rides with a free-leased mare, Dakota:
“I felt the grip of home loosen. I began to feel something I can describe only as possibility, a release in my chest that made me breathe more deeply and fully.”
In my mind, Peppe achieved the near-impossible with this thoughtful memoir:
- First, she recalled with vivid detail a fluid stream of memories from girlhood.
- Second, she manages to do so with a convincing voice and girlish mindset.
- Third, she knits into her narrative the kind, mature, and forgiving perspective of a woman who has made it through very personal and sometimes traumatic trials of growing up in a big, poor family.
- Lastly, Peppe seems to encourage and inspire her readers, especially those of us who also grew up in rural Maine, to consider their own childhoods from a new perspective and with greater appreciation and humor.
That’s when books like Pigs Can’t Swim become more than words on pages. They become gifts.
Visit Helen Peppe’s website here.