Critical Acclaim for “Suitcase Full of Dreams”

“I would have loved to have had a copy of Suitcase Full of Dreams to use as a teaching resource. While we studied Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, Anne Frank’s diary, and various contemporary and classic women writers, Hoy’s story would have added dimension and raw truth to the enduring issues and themes these other great writers explored. I was moved to tears and to laughter by this book. Hoy’s clear voice and conversational style speaks to me of poverty, oppression, racism, religion, the transformative powers of education, and most of all, love. Her language is poetic; she paints beautiful, detailed pictures with her words, and brings to life engaging characters and experiences that haunt me even now.” — Denise Lowe Thorngate, teacher of English and Drama

“This well-written book starts with Hoy Kersh sharing her first memory of fear as her family whisks her off to another state, running for their lives from Klan members who have sworn to kill them. Ms. Kersh then tells the story of her early life: anecdotes about friends and family, the prejudices she faced, and the events that shaped her beliefs. This is a woman who lived through a tumultuous period in our nation’s history, and put her painful childhood memories on paper for the world. Her book should be required reading for high school and college students.” — Luann Morgan, "Reading Frenzy"

“After reading Suitcase Full of Dreams, I found myself at a loss for words, unable to describe the emotions—joy, anger, frustration, loss, and loving care—that were moving through me. I read Hoy’s life story late into the night and in stolen moments throughout the day, and have emerged with an understanding that I would not have thought possible. This is an important and moving read on many levels.” — Stephen Quiggle, M.A., Counseling Psychologist

Suitcase Full of Dreams is an interesting and entertaining memoir. In her unique writing style, Hoy Kersh tells of a life of poverty, abuse at home, segregation, and killings by the KKK. Anyone who wants to know what life was like for poor blacks in the South before the Civil Rights Movement will enjoy reading this memoir.” — "Different Time, Different Place" Book Reviews

“Hoy Kersh tells her stories with the flourish of a poet. Despite the poverty and injustice she and her family and friends endured, she was a child who could not be pushed down, and reveled in the simple glories of nature. The bravery of the civil rights leaders inspired her, and the call of the northern states pulled her, at age sixteen, onto a train for Chicago. There the book ends, waiting for part 2 to be written.” — Linda Austin, author of "Cherry Blossoms in Twilight"

“Kersh’s story of her turbulent childhood in the Jim Crow South is one filled with hope and upheaval. Her grandfather was murdered when Kersh was three years old. On the night of the slaying, the Ku Klux Klan appeared at the family’s home and drove them out of town. Over the course of this memoir, Kersh grows up poor, black, and female as her mother grows more depressed and restrictive, her loving father cheats, and her grandmother runs a clandestine gambling house. Despite many hardships, life isn’t all bad for Kersh: she takes solace in the natural world, the music that surrounds her, and books. Kersh should be lauded for her determination to escape despite all the obstacles in her way. Personal in scope, but poignant and accessible all the same.” — Kirkus Indie

Black History Month: Childhood Reflections of Civil Rights Era

(WHITETHORN, Calif.) In celebration of Black History Month this February, Cozilove Enterprisess released a memoir that illustrates what living in the segregated South was like for a young black child. In Suitcase Full of Dreams, author Hoy Kersh gives readers access to the sorrows and joys of growing up in the dirt-road, Jim Crow South in the 1940s and early 50s, just prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

Throughout the book, Kersh shares her personal memories, including those of various historical figures who inspired her—Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr.—all from a child's perspective. She spent most of her days fending off the Ku Klux Klan, questioning authority and avoiding her mother's heavy hand, but Kersh still managed to remain compassionate—and determined.

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, birthplace of the blues, Kersh's father was the son of a German sheriff who had a black mistress. The harsh reality of racism first hit her when her grandfather was murdered because of their relationship. The Klan drove Kersh's family out of town, forcing them into Mobile, Alabama, where she spent the duration of her childhood. Her writing captures the anguish of the time:

That night, while Grandpa's soul was leaving his body and his blood bathed the damp ground, the Klansmen came to our house. There must have been thirty or forty men dressed in white robes. They were a sinister crowd. With hoods over their faces, they carried torches and shotguns. Surrounding the house, one of them called Grandma out to the front porch and told her (to leave). The dark forces had their way and we were running for our lives. I was way too little to understand that night of terror, but the tale has been told so many times. I can see it, taste the fear, feel Grandma's heart beat way too fast, and see Mama's young woman face become old for the moment. —Excerpted from Suitcase Full of Dreams

Many years later, not wanting to remain "stuck in the quicksand of the South," Kersh left her family behind and moved to Chicago as a teenager. She is currently a songwriter, music performer and passionate peace activist. She has three grown children and resides in Northern California.

Suitcase Full of Dreams by Hoy Kersh (Cozilove Enterprises, Feb 2010, ISBN 978-0-9823165-1-1, $14.00)