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What My Heart Wants To Tell cover
January 2005
What My Heart Wants To Tell
by Verna Mae Slone

Verna Mae Slone, a quilter and doll maker from Knott County, very aptly titled her 1979 memoir. It is apparent from the book’s preface, a letter to her grandchildren, that Slone’s intention was to let readers into her heart—the heart of a mountain person, a grandmother, a wife, and a devoted daughter. The book is written in the stark, conversational voice of someone who deeply loves a place and the traditions and stories surrounding it. But this memoir is also part love letter—its most vivid character is not Slone herself, but her father, Isom B. “Kitteneye” Slone, whose birth and death bracket the narrative—and part historical record. Slone’s writing moves beyond anecdotes and colorful characters to set the reader down within a community and a time that have since all but vanished into the great American mainstream. Writing for young people who have lost things they never even knew they had, she includes detailed explanations of food preparations, songs, photos, and chores, preserving a way of life and the memory of a strong and honorable people.

Card catalog entry from the Library of Congress information page

Barnes and Noble information page

“Love is shaped just like a lizard. It twirls its tail around your heart and nibbles at your gizzards.”

—Verna Mae Slone

Verna Mae Slone

Profile from the “Knott County Hall of Fame,” a site put together by local genealogy fans as part of the RootsWeb site

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