With the Devil’s Help: A True Story of Poverty, Mental Illness, and Murder

Pegasus. Sept. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781639362400. $26.95. CRIME
Wooten’s family is no different than others in wanting to keep their secrets. In this book, they mainly live in Sand Mountain, AL, but move around a bit. Journalist and comedian Wooten alternates between describing his own upbringing and life and depicting the family history from the perspective of his grandfather, known for a temper so hot, tales about it are legendary. Most around him consider his anger as something far more. Tracing five decades, the book showcases the difficulties of earning little to no income generation after generation, which meant living without running water and barely any electricity. Everything starts to crumble when crime comes into the picture, the grandfather’s anger comes into play, and there’s pushback against the law. This book is difficult to read at times. Many of the family memories are not happy ones; they’re filled with violence and anger. There are also circumstances that will compel readers to empathize, sympathize, and root for the Wooten family. Note that the book contains derogatory classifications and descriptions.
VERDICT Readers who are interested in complex family histories like Tara Westover’s Educated will enjoy this book.
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