Winner of the 2017 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction!
Set in the early 1950s rural South, One Good Mama Bone chronicles Sarah Creamer's quest to find her "mama bone" after she is left to care for a boy who is not her own but instead is the product of an affair between her husband and her best friend and neighbor, a woman she calls "Sister." When her husband drinks himself to death, Sarah, a dirt-poor homemaker with no family to rely on and the note on the farm long past due, must find a way for her and young Emerson Bridge to survive. But the more daunting obstacle is Sarah's fear that her mother's words, seared in her memory since she first heard them at the age of six, were a prophesy: "You ain't got you one good mama bone in you, girl."
When Sarah reads in the local newspaper that a boy won $680 with his Grand Champion steer at the recent 1951 Fat Cattle Show & Sale, she sees this as their financial salvation and finds a way to get Emerson Bridge a steer from a local farmer to compete in the 1952 show. But the young calf is unsettled at Sarah's farm, crying out in distress and growing louder as the night wears on. Some four miles away, the steer's mother hears his cries and breaks out of a barbed-wire fence to go in search of him. The next morning Sarah finds the young steer quiet, content, and nursing on a large cow. Inspired by the mother cow's act of love, Sarah names her Mama Red. And so Sarah's education in motherhood begins with Mama Red as her teacher.
But Luther Dobbins, the man who sold Sarah the steer, has his sights set on winning too, and, like Sarah, he is desperate, but not for money. Dobbins is desperate for glory, wanting to regain his lost grand-champion dynasty, and he will stop at nothing to win. Emboldened by her lessons from Mama Red and her budding mama bone, Sarah is fully committed to victory until she learns the winning steer's ultimate fate. Will she stop at nothing, even if it means betraying her teacher?
McClain's writing is distinguished by a sophisticated and detailed portrayal of the day-to-day realities of rural poverty and an authentic sense of time and place that marks the best southern fiction. Her characters transcend their archetypes and her animal-as-teacher theme recalls the likes of Water for Elephants and The Art of Racing in the Rain. One Good Mama Bone explores the strengths and limitations of parental love, the healing power of the human-animal bond, and the ethical dilemmas of raising animals for food.
Mary Alice Monroe, a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of eighteen novels and two children's books, provides a foreword to the novel.
About the Author
Bren McClain was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, on a beef cattle and grain farm. She has a degree in English from Furman University; is an experienced media relations, radio, and television news professional; and currently works as a communications confidence coach. She is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by the South Carolina Arts Commission. McClain won the 2016 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress for "Took" and was a finalist in the 2012 Pirate's Alley Faulkner Award for Novel-in-Progress for One Good Mama Bone. This is McClain's first novel.
Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of eighteen novels and two children's books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a fantastic story, a "don't wanna put down"! As a motger of grown children, at times I long for another chance at "One Good Momma Bone". Heart felt and full of compassion. Loved it!
Linda Zagon's review Oct 28, 2018 · edit it was amazing Read 2 times. Last read October 28, 2018. WOW!!!Kudos to Bren McClane, Author of “One Good Mama Bone”, for such a captivating, insightful, intense, emotional, and thought- provoking novel. Bren McClane’s vivid descriptions of the rural South Carolina landscape in the early 1950’s and her colorful cast of characters are absolutely amazing. The Genres for this novel are Fiction and Historical Fiction. The author weaves many important topics together to tell this story. One of the questions that comes to mind, Is it Nature or Nurture that causes human being’s behavior? The author does give us a glimpse of some of the characters as they are growing up, and how their parents place certain expectations, and show lack of parenting skills. For example, Sarah Creamer, was brought up being told she was too fat to go to church and her mother keeps repeating that “Sarah doesn’t have one good mama bone in her'”. Now Sarah is an adult and finds herself in charge of a little boy that was brought into the world by her best friend and husband. Despite their betrayal, Sarah is on hand to help with the delivery of a little boy. The mother kills herself, leaving Sarah holding the baby. Sarah remembers her mother’s word, that ” she doesn’t have one good mama bone in her”, and panics. Sarah and her husband bring up the baby, Emerson Bridge. When Emerson Bridge, turns seven, Sarah’s husband dies, leaving her in dire circumstances. They live in poverty, and barely have enough to eat. Sarah sews dresses and sells them to try to survive. Sarah owes so much money to many people. Sarah hears of an opportunity to make money and give her son a friend. There is a contest where young boys can help their steer grow, and win prize money. Some of the boys don’t realize what will happen to their steer. His mother buys the calf from Luther Dobbins, who will do anything to win this contest. Luther has a son the same age as Emerson. Emerson Bridge names his calf Lucky. Lucky is crying all night and the next morning, they find that his mother has made it four miles and is feeding him. Sarah calls the Mama Cow, “Mama Red”, and starts learning some mothering skills from the cow. Sarah is really trying to find her “Mama Bone”. I appreciate that Bren McClane discusses how important animals are to humans. It is mentioned that humans should be kind to animals. Important topics such as parenting, being a Mother and a Father, compassion, religion, family, emotional support, friendship, love and hope are seen in this story. There are twists and turns , betrayals, loyalty, tragedy, love and hope. I would highly recommend this fantastic novel for those readers who love a well written story.
Rarely do I ever finish a book with my heart so full of love and my eyes so flooded with tears! This book is an exquisite debut novel, uniquely told with with Southern flair and oh so much passion for the subject matter. After meeting Bren McClain, I knew that I would love this book. But I was not prepared for the outpouring of emotion that came from reading the book and listening to the audio edition. The next books I read I know will suffer in comparison because this is one that will stay with me for a long time. I can't wait to see what Bren writes next but you can bet I will be the first in line for it. Five stars for One Good Mama Bone!
Are You Ready For The Next "To Kill A Mockingbird?" Well, here it is!, April 3, 2017 By Craig Faris (Story River Books) (Hardcover & Audio) I loved this so much that I bought two copies, the hardback and the audio book. Brenda McClain, is our modern day Harper Lee, and this, her debut' novel, is truly the next "To Kill a Mockingbird." It was everything that I had hoped for and more. The writing is from the heart; the story is so moving that it brings you to tears; the emotions and the love for the characters and the animals is breathtaking. A lot of times, after reading or listening to a book, I'll either sell it or delete the file, but NOT this one. This is the type of book you'll want to save for re-reading a year from now just so you can relive the story all over again. Pat Conroy read this book before it was published and he was so moved that he asked if his publishing company could have the honor of publishing it... and they did, right before is death. I was honored to meet Bren years ago at a writers conference when we were both unpublished and knew her when this manuscript was a finalist in the 2012 William Faulkner/ Wisdom Pirates Alley competition and I am thrilled that her upcoming novel, "Took" won the 2016 just won the same competition in 2016. So, get her to autographed copy while you can, because she is going to the top of the New York Time Bestsellers list... perhaps ever the Pulitzer Prize. Reviewed by Craig Faris, Seventeen-time published author with 31 literary awards, and author of The Spectrum Conspiracy, winner of 8 literary awards in international, national and regional competitions.