Theories of Relativity

Cover of Ruth Zachary's New Book © 2012
Hello, Friends!
            It has been months since I have posted information on this blog, and I apologize, but failing computer equipment has been one reason. Another reason was that I was finishing a family history, which has been published and is now available.
            This new book, Theories of Relativity, has about 300 pages with twenty black and white photographs plus 50 pages of Appendices:
Theories of Relativity        
            Based upon real life, Ava, a young woman born in 1903, was raised by grand parents in a home that was quite religious and strict. Growing up, she learned she had unusual perceptions of reality, where her senses were often comingled, so she felt sounds on her skin, music was associated with colors or scents, and so on. Ava was synesthetic in a time when the condition was unknown. This informed her early experience of the world. Ava struggled to become an accomplished student, musician, teacher, and eventually married Forrest, just after the 1929 crash. Her previous isolation and Forrest’s earlier childhood abuse and their different religious outlooks seemed to bring a surprising balance to their lives during the hardships of the Great Depression. Eventually the couple started a family in spite of unresolved issues. Their story is told with thoughtful candor and compassion.
            Other characters in this drama include Ava’s father who related to her through correspondence, a dominating grandmother, Forrest’s determined and gentle mother, Alice, and many aunts and cousins who endeavored to work to maintain family relationships in the face of a dynamically changing social climate.
            These people are unique and yet have much in common with the nationwide experience of that period. In these unfolding events, many changes in history, from the Civil War, WW1, Women’s Suffrage, the Great Depression, and its aftermath, to just before World War II are reflected. It describes the changing social climate from an agricultural era to a more industrial economic world, that affected so many lives.
            People interested in history, in genealogy, poetry, and in biography should find this account interesting. Relatives may find clues to their own family histories as well.
Ruth Zachary explains how she came to write this story:
            “This collection of stories began as personal memories of family. My mother, father and other relatives told family stories and saved many family documents, letters, photographs, and diaries. As I began to sort through these artifacts, I saw that the addition of these materials would expand the scope this project could offer, both for my own family, and for others as well. My main motivation is to preserve this heritage that is not mine alone, and to make it widely accessible to those who might value it.
            The details about the impact of the times is an very common American experience, but the characters are also individual enough to make the story unique. Not really a novel, and based on real documents and experiences, it still offers stories which many should be able to compare with experiences in their own families. The stories told must be filtered through perception and memory, whether mine or someone else's, and in that measure anyone’s views are fictional, although real life is often as dramatic as fiction.
            Ava, my mother provided the most material, and so the account essentially became a biography about her and about family members who interacted with her.
            Ava struggled to become an accomplished student, musician, teacher, and eventually married a man whose world outlook was much different than her own teaching and background. Her synesthesia and her marriage were often in conflict with her beliefs.
            The unfolding events reflect many changes in history, from the Civil War, WW1, Women’s Suffrage, the Great Depression, its aftermath, to the period just prior to World War II. It describes the changing social climate of an agricultural era transitioning toward a more industrial economy, and records ways real lives and common people were affected.  
            My relatives had much in common with the nation’s population as a whole. Their experiences add to the sense of the character of past eras. Historically so much has changed in those hundred plus years in which our grandparents lived, that only a few of us are left who have a sense of the flavor of the time they lived through.
            This historically based tale includes many family members, who brought old attitudes along with them, and whose relationships and lives impact each other as they adjust to their changing world. These various characters move toward a more relaxed outlook about the future just before World War II.
            I have attempted to present accurately all stories I have recorded here, from the word-of-mouth accounts I remember, and from selections of other's writings. Nothing is sugarcoated, nor is anyone vilified. I have tried to depict the people in this family portrait compassionately, yet without sentimentality. The characters in my family were unique and different in many ways, but very much like other ordinary people who experienced the same periods of time. They built lives around their dreams, and lived or died with grace or angst, through difficult times. I have selectively removed some details to save space, but I have tried to maintain the authentic character of each person, which may have been limited by materials I was given.
            Different eras seemed to embrace different ideas about family relationships. Identifying these diverse points of view led to the name, Theories of Relativity, which I interspersed between other accounts, to note various views about family. They are included as food for thought, and to encourage reflection about how attitudes and behaviors contribute to family life.
            This illustrated book is a collection of stories, letters, poems and diary entries from the previous century, In many cases the actual accounts in letters or diaries more accurately reveal true character, or what it was really like to live in past decades, so I included original writings by individuals when possible with attributions to them. Unattributed pieces are my own. The story depicts a varied picture of family life in decades few people are still alive to remember or record. I included some extra information to enlarge the historic context in which their interactions took place.
            Some of my own writing is in story format, but usually I prefer poetry as a form that condenses accounts of stories, events, mood, exchanges, or patterns. I use first, second and third person voices for many characters. The first person voice is not always my own, but usually the character is identified to avoid confusion.
            The sections are generally grouped together to be about particular family branches prior to the marriage of Forrest and Ava. Their accounts are more mingled after their marriage. The events are generally sequential, although not all are dated.
            In some cases I have changed names to preserve anonymity of living persons. I also have at times, changed names or omitted dates to preserve privacy of some people. I have not knowingly used the full names of living people.
Ruth Zachary was a news reporter in a suburb of Grand Rapids MI for seven years. She has attended numerous creative writing classes, workshops and seminars. She is also the author of The Woman Who Named Herself, her first book. Autographed books may  be obtained from the author at Each book is $23.50, including shipping.
Writing and images on this site are the copyright ©of Ruth Zachary.

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