LOGAN — On Wednesday, Dec. 11, Kathy Manley attended a book signing at Nu Era Bakery for her latest release, “Don’t Tell ‘em You’re Cold: A Memoir of Poverty and Resilience.”
“I do mention the Nu Era Bakery in my book two or three times,” Manley said. “I’ve always wanted to come in here, buy something as a child, but my father and I walked up the streets to beg.”
Set in the hollows and coal camps of southern West Virginia, “Don’t Tell ‘em You’re Cold” follows Manley’s childhood of abject poverty.
Other obstacles compounded Manley’s life: a severely disabled father and a neglectful mother who had difficulty coping with day-to-day survival. On a cool October morning, her mother left in a taxi and never returned, leaving 14-year-old Kathy, the eldest sibling, to care for her father and raise her younger brother and sister in her mother’s absence.
In the chapter titled “It Will Be Good for You,” Manley begins to ponder the kind of person she wants to be and has an epiphany. On a sheet of notebook paper, she writes: “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know one thing for sure: I don’t want to be poor.”
Another pivotal moment in Manley’s life comes in the chapter titled “All Men Are Not Created Equal” when she realizes that families in her camp made $800 a month for working in the coal mines, some made $300 a month in Social Security benefits, and some made $90 in Welfare benefits. Manley rounds the 90 up to 100 and realizes that she is a one:
“Although things weren’t clear to me how I was going to do it,” wrote Manley, “I did not want to be a one.”
“Don’t Tell ‘em You’re Cold” is more than just a coming-of-age story; it’s also a rags-to-riches one. Her book is in the gift shop at Logan Regional Medical Center for $19.95 or at the Surrey House restaurant in Chapmanville. Copies of the book may also be purchased at Amazon.com for $19.99.
Published by Mountain State Press with an introduction by editor Cat Pleska, the book sold more than 1,300 copies during the first four weeks of its release. Schools in Logan County are now including the book as part of their ninth grade curriculum. Mingo County has purchased copies for all 11th grade girls.
Manley is now getting speaking engagements statewide. To book her for a speaking engagement, contact email@example.com.
“West Virginians are among the very best storytellers in the world,” wrote Homer Hickam, author of “October Sky” and “Rocket Boys,” “and Kathy Manley is clearly a West Virginian. Her story rings with vibrancy and truth. Highly recommended.”
“I really believe it will open your eyes once you read the book,” said Manley, because it tells it has a message: if I can make it out of poverty and what I’ve been doing all my life, then you can, too. That’s what the book is about — to give hope and inspiration to others.