Poverty to Possibility


Diane Bailey-Boulet

I purchased the book: Poverty To Possibility, because the author, Diane Bailey-Boulet is a former colleague and I wanted to support another writer.  After seeing the book sit on my shelf for six months, I finally picked it up, committing only to read a few pages to determine if I liked it.  Ten hours later with only a few breaks in between, I finished the book including the auxiliary pages explaining where several of the characters were today along with the dedications. 

Bailey-Boulet’s writing captured my interest immediately.  The book is a compilation of experiences from her father’s childhood but it flows like a novel with the descriptions of the characters and scenes coming to life on the page.  I felt like I was in the story with little Harry (the author’s father) and his parents William and Edna struggling through the Great Depression and World War II.  The author took great care in using the terms of the times and provides vivid descriptions of the surroundings.  I imagined seeing the coal dust covering the tiny town of Rawmarsh and its inhabitants.  I could see the boys playing cricket in the fields.

Each chapter is short and captures a particular timeframe in the life of her father as a child.  Each chapter teaches us something about Harry, the times, or ourselves with very subtle messages.  The author spoke with friends and relatives of her father and of the other characters mentioned.  While Bailey-Boulet loves and idolizes her father, she was far from alone.  Harry Bailey was a child born with innate kindness, insight and drive.  As I read the dedications to the many people that helped Bailey-Boulet put the pieces of this story together, I see that these wonderful traits have been passed down to the next Bailey generation.  This story is a true heart-warming tale of a little boy who changes the trajectory of his life and future family generations through hope, perseverance and above all love of family friends and community. 

I expected to read this book over the course of several weeks.  Instead, I found myself immersed in the life of a coal miner’s son and his family who, despite having extraordinarily little, had everything that mattered in life.  If you want to believe in the strength and goodness of the human spirit, read Poverty to Possibility.