Sad Papaw’s: Heritage

We rated this book:


In 2016, a tweet went viral: a picture of a grandfather who had made enough hamburgers for all his grandchildren, but only one came. That a second grandchild showed up after the tweet made no difference. The internet had already collectively adopted Kenny Harmon as their Sad Papaw.

Now he wants to share his family history with the world.

Sad Papaw’s Heritage is a short book, less than a hundred and fifty pages. Even so, it covers generations of history, from the Hermann (the original spelling of the name) family coming to the Americas from Germany in the 1720s to Kenny’s own generation. It’s a vast scope, and an intriguing slice of Americana, covering colonial struggles against Native Americans, westward expansion, and the Dust Bowl years of locust swarms and failing crops. In the early chapters especially, Harmon draws on accounts written decades prior, showing that the family has been recording their own history for generations.

More proof of the recording comes from the recipes and old photographs interspersed between chapters. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but the apple nut cake looks delicious.

Harmon doesn’t just talk about what his own family did. In nearly every chapter there’s a little historical context, reminding readers of what else was happening in the country and tossing in some new details that readers may not be familiar with. (Crayola, for instance, is much older than I thought!) This helps not only to ground the family saga but also to expand the book a little from focusing on just one family to being a story as well about a changing country.

I did feel the book could have used more expansion. As I said before, it was short, and only snippets of each generation were given. Some of this may have been from a lack of sources, but I finished the book wanting to know more about the Harmons. I think either making the book longer or focusing on one or two generations and delving more deeply into those would have helped a great deal.

Sad Papaw’s Heritage was not just born from a viral moment on social media. It also came from generations of hard-working Americans determined not so much to make their mark on the country as to live a good life. I don’t think it will go down in history as the next Little House series, but it’s a solid, honest book, and I think anyone who wants a quick view of American history through one family will enjoy it.

Reviewed By:

Author Kenny Harmon
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 159 pages
Publisher ReadersMagnet LLC
Publish Date 13-Aug-2022
ISBN 9781959165026 Buy this Book
Issue September 2023
Category History