“All That Matters,” by Diane Yates

Diane Yates

Reviewed by Johnnie Bernhard

John Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden, “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.” Courage is personified by Clella Catherine Burch, mother of seven children, including author Diane Yates of All That Matters.

Burch’s courage, born of a faith-filled family with a strong work ethic from the Missouri Ozarks, sustains her and her children through two failed marriages, multiple cross-country moves, and reckless choices that often leave the family penniless and without food. This is the true story of a woman without the means of an education, a car, or a telephone, who refuses to give in and quit. She survives because of her faith and determination to provide for her children.

All That Matters is the sequel to Pathways of the Heart, which introduces Clella Catherine. Yates begins the second book, weaving her childhood story with that of her mother, in the cow-town of Fort Worth in 1957. This is a second marriage for Catherine, who, in mid-life, with six children from her first marriage, marries a much younger man, Francis, the author’s biological father.

Passion in the new marriage overcomes many trials and errors on Francis’s part.

As life continues for the family, poor decisions become a pattern for Francis – overdrinking, flirtations, gambling, and, later, neglect, betrayals, and abandonment. The vivid scene of a mother and daughter surviving on Miracle Whip sandwiches and looking for empty glass bottles to sell for potted meat will move and disturb the compassionate reader.

This book is, at its essence, the story of a mother and daughter who refuse give in and give up. Their heartfelt tenacity enables Diane to survive the knife-wielding gangs of Los Angeles as she enters another school district in yet another new city.

Diane inherits her mother’s dignity and work ethic, never questioning why life isn’t fair, instead accepting personal responsibility to make life better. Her hard-earned attitude and determination are inspiring.

What makes All That Matters truly formidable and different from other non-fiction stories of gumption and survival is the forgiving nature of this mother and daughter, as well as other family members. Such forgiveness is divine or spiritual in nature and the reason for the book’s provocative title.

All That Matters is a beautiful narrative of Christian love and faith that sustains despite life’s adversities.

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