Press & Media

Select Editorial Reviews

Sweet Mystery News Release
Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of Sweet Mystery
March 31, 1996
Lexington Herald Leader (KY) review of Sweet Mystery
January 21, 1996
Raleigh News & Observer review of Sweet Mystery
January 28, 1996
USA Today review of Sweet Mystery
April 4, 1996
Washington Post review of Sweet Mystery
February 25, 1996
Be Somebody review

Praise for Sweet Mystery

"Sweet Mystery is a remarkable story... fascinating, but what makes it special is its compassion. Paterson tells her story with sadness and anger but also with great love. She watches her mother losing her fight with alcoholism, and despite the reality of what that meant to her as a daughter, still asks, 'if it doesn't perhaps take much, or more, courage to wage a battle that is lost than to fight with hope for something that might be won.'" Susan Kelly, USA Today

"[B]eautifully written... Paterson's clear mission here is to concentrate on the process of remembering, to discern true memories from the idea of memories or the memories of memories. This is a grand excursion backward, warts and all... The dragon was not the Old South (although with this book Paterson can lay clear claim to the status of Southern Writer) or slavery or class or cotton or your mother's underwear; it was booze and pills, and it burned a hole that could be filled only with the passion of teaching, of writing, of turning her attention to others and sharing her grotesques with us." Robert H. Williams, The Washington Post

"[Paterson's] psychological insights are sound.... For readers who have had similar experiences, this book could offer the comfort of sharing the survival of the horrific." Andrea Cooper, for The New York Times Book Review

"A cathartic reconciliation with the past... [Paterson's] lyrical, sensuous prose brings memory vividly to life and articulates with understated power the rage and sadness of the adult survivor of childhood trauma. Sweet Mystery is a courageous account of personal suffering and recovery that forcefully affirms the necessity of confronting the past." Steven Hill, for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"[A] dauntless, poignant account of a troubled early childhood... Sweet Mystery is a carefully researched and eloquent meditation on the causes of a specific family's turmoil. It's a story not only of one child's heartbreak but of her resiliency and healing. What distinguishes Paterson's memoir from others is her vivid documentation of happy times as well as the episodes of confusion and pain. [A] rare, amazing grace of a book." Marianne Gingher, for The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

"This book is for all who appreciate eloquent writing of bittersweet memories, as well as those struggling with the legacy of a painful childhood." Publishers Weekly

"This delicately written memoir works on a number of levels—as the story of Paterson's desperately unhappy parents and as a clear-eyed look at how the afflictions of one generation are visited on the next. It is most notable, however, for its unflinching descriptions of a child's suffering." Booklist

"A remarkable work ... tender, excruciating, compelling." Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird

"Judith Paterson's Sweet Mystery evokes the ghosts of Truman Capote's troubled childhood with all its bittersweet traumas, memories, and redemptions. It is a story for anyone whose curiosity hearkens to the sweet mysteries of the past." Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump

"The sweetest mystery of Judith Paterson's stunning memoir is how she steeled herself to delve so deeply into her own buried memories to produce this unflinching history. Sweet Mystery should earn her a place on the shelf with Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood and Frank Conroy's Stop-Time." Elizabeth Benedict, author of Slow Dancing and editor of the anthology What My Mother Gave Me

"Judith Paterson links the great casualties of the American Civil War to the personal casualties of lovelessness in this brilliant family memoir, in which utter terror and unconditional forgiveness are inextricably combined. I stayed up until two in the morning reading this one." Carolyn See, author of Dreaming: Good Luck and Hard Times in America

"Judith Paterson writes with remarkable insight about a flawed but loving family. And her details of growing up in the South are right on the money, even down to the RC Colas!" Alfred Uhry, author of Driving Miss Daisy

"Here is an autobiography to be read again and again, a window open onto a child's world of horror and victory, a world that included the South itself with its implacable society and its restless quarrel with changing times." Richard Marius, author of Bound for the Promised Land

Praise for Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt

"In her first 90 years, Marguerite Rawalt has achieved the impossible at least twice: She's given lawyers and feminists a good name." Trustman Singer for The Washington Post

"It has been marvelous that Judith Paterson has had access to all of [Marguerite's] papers and to Marguerite. Marvelous for women." Liz Carpenter, ERA activist and former aide to Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson

"Be Somebody is more than just the biography of a woman who, through courage and hard work, succeeds in overcoming numerous difficulties—not the least of which are some nasty forms of sex discrimination—to "be somebody." The book includes a fascinating account of the women's rights movement from a woman lawyer's perspective, a detailed account of the battle in Congress for the Equal Rights Amendment, an intriguing account of teh use by a determined woman of the power of professional organizations to attain her goals, and a Washingtonian's account of the impact of her activities on the major historical events of the last century." Joseph E. Ross, for Federal Bar News and Journaal

"One of the interests of this book is to see exemplified in Rawalt's career the techniques that are now recommended to women striving to achieve. Long before they were fashionable terms, Rawalt was benefiting from 'mentoring' and 'networking' in her professional life." Joan Henley, for the Baltimore Evening Sun

"More than a biography, the book is a history of the women's movement from teh 1930s to the present. The story unfolds from the events in Rawalt's life, drawing upon the letters, documents, clippings, and photos she has kept neatly stored in brown boxes and filing cabinets in her apartment for decades." Lisa Myrick, for Legal Times