Skinny House-A Memoir of Family

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Knowing the history of your family allows you to gain a better perspective when trying to understand yourself and your situation. For some people, it is easier than others to trace back their family tree, but if you’re able to, knowing your legacy can be powerful. To Julie Seely, the daughter of Tommy Seely and granddaughter of Nathan Seely, digging into her family history will help her to better understand her feelings toward the grandfather she never met, and her father who could be both loving and distant at the same time. Through research from family members and various historical documents and societies, Seely has presented findings of her family and the “Skinny House” that her grandfather built completely on his own using salvaged materials in the 1930s. Skinny House represents the hard work and oppression Nathan’s family faced in the early 1900s. Because of this house and all of the events surrounding its construction, it shows that you never know what life will throw at you, and depending on your lens, will even determine your view of it all.

The life of Nathan Seely is very interesting and indicative of a hardworking and industrious man who did what he had to in order to provide for himself and his family. With his brother, they created Seely Bros., Inc., a contracting business with the purpose of building housing for colored folks in New York. Unfortunately, the Great Depression hit shortly after their start, and being in the minority, it hit the Seely family harder than others. While their family still fared better than most, the emotional strain hit especially hard on the members of his family. His son, Tom, is described as emotionally opposite from his father in almost every aspect. Due to the Great Depression, the Skinny House was made in Nathan’s attempt to make their life appear “back to normal”, but to Tom and his mother, Lillian, even this noble attempt wasn’t enough.

The history recorded in this book is fascinating and very educational for those not familiar with the early 1900s. The author shows how much different times were then, compared to now. The love that is shown in the story, both obvious and hidden between the characters, beginning with the love between Nathan and Lillian, and then ending with the love that Julie has for her relatives is beautiful and refreshing to read about. Julie’s memoir of her family shows both poignant and pleasing experiences from history and her family tree. Remembering all the information given is from a different time, it is still evident that patience and having an open mind are some of life’s greatest virtues in order to have maybe not an easier, but a more pleasant and enjoyable life.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 222 pages
Publisher Skinny House Press
Publish Date 30-Jan-2020
ISBN 9780996877701 Buy this Book
Issue October 2019
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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