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Adkins author taps into post-slavery era

Adkins author taps into post-slavery era
PASCALLE BIPPERT Mississippi Innocents is the first book from Adkins author Betty Chisolm Hutzler.

Mississippi Innocents is the first book from author Betty Chisolm Hutzler of Adkins.

Born in Arkansas, she moved to San Antonio with her mother and four siblings after her father passed away when she was 3 years old.

Her mother was originally from Mississippi, but because of tragic events, the family moved from Mississippi to Arkansas. Mississippi Innocents chronicles Hutzler’s mother’s adventures as a child.

Hutzler started writing after her mother’s death in 1997. Her mother’s death was very painful for her. As therapy, she started writing down the stories her mother had told her about growing up in Mississippi and wove in her own threads; this became Mississippi Innocents. Hutzler holds a fine arts degree with honors from the University of Houston. In addition to her writing talent, she also paints, has worked as an interior designer, and has owned art galleries in San Antonio on the River Walk and in La Villita.

The author comes from a long line of powerful people who shaped the history of the United States. Her grandfather was Lt. Col. Thomas Chisolm, who fought with Washington’s Continental Line and was the first surveyor general of Georgia after the American Revolution. Her great-aunt, Ann Cuthbert, was the first woman to own land in Georgia. President George Washington was entertained at her plantation several times. Hutzler is a member of the National Society Daughters of the Revolution, The Colonial Dames of America, and The Jamestowne Society.

The book

Hutzler’s story takes place after slavery was outlawed, yet the strife between races was still obvious in the countryside except on the Guarr family plantation.

The main character, Jackie, was actually named Edna Dolores Guarr. She was nicknamed Jackie because she was a tomboy. She and her beloved brother, Allen, would go on adventures together, getting dirty in the trees and bayous. Her beloved Hon, a black house servant, would clean her up and get her ready to see her mother. Jackie dearly loved Hon; readers will certainly feel the love these characters have for each other.

The family is complex and has a history, including a former marriage for Jackie’s mother, and infant deaths because of the harsh climate and environment. Jackie’s mother also has a black mother figure, “Mammy Nell,” whom she loves dearly. The family has to leave loved ones behind when they move to Arkansas.

Jackie is a brilliant child. Although she is just 7 years old, she has read and understands the Bible and quotes scripture like a preacher. She also has another gift, the gift of sight. Her mother might not know or acknowledge that gift, but Hon recognizes it and cultivates it. The connection between Jackie and Hon is palpable. I felt the love they shared as I read the book, and I rejoiced and cried as I read to the end.

Hutzler said she grew up in a very spiritual household. Her mother was Jackie, and the author inherited some of her vision; she taps into her subconscious and writes down the ideas that come to her when she sleeps. She also wrote the poems recited by Jackie in the book.

I highly recommend Mississippi Innocents and eagerly await Hutzler’s sequel. The book has yet to be named, but it is being written.

Mississippi Innocents, published by Southern and Yellow Dog Press, is available at the La Vernia News office and from Amazon.com for Kindle, as an e-book, or paperback.

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