Mattie’s Girl: An Appalachian Childhood

Written by Celia H. Miles

Abandoned in the care of Aunt Mattie and Uncle Cade (the sheriff) in the North Carolina mountains, nine-year-old June Bruton becomes “Mattie’s Girl” when Cade is killed, without witnesses, at the home of June’s best friend PeeDee.

In stories deeply rooted in 1940s Appalachia, June chronicles the years between meeting the irrepressible PeeDee and losing her. She struggles to understand her mother’s indifference, her father’s divided love, her grandmother’s sudden death, her grandfather’s being institutionalized. Three years later, PeeDee, riding the rails west, brings a final gift and the truth about Cade’s murder. In this world forever gone, June survives and triumphs through the grace of family and friendship.


Celia H. Miles, a native of Jackson County in western North Carolina, now lives in Asheville. She attended Brevard College and Berea College and has graduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She taught at Brevard College and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. A long-time instructor of English, she now spends her time writing, photographing old mills and stone circles, and traveling. She has co-authored a college textbook, has published romance novels, historical and contemporary novels, along with stories and poems in various markets, and co-edited three women’s writing anthologies.

Some of this material has been published in modified form in the following:

“The Big Sycamore” in Cricket (October 2000)
“Selling the Grit” in Yesterday’s Magazette (July-October 1998)
“Backsliding” in Victoria Press (2000)
“Going to the Dentist” in Victoria Press (1999)



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