Southern Discomfort

Narrated by: Tena Clark
Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (129 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the best-selling tradition of The Help comes a riveting and profoundly moving memoir set in rural Mississippi during the civil rights era about a white girl coming of age in a repressive society and the woman who gave her the strength to forge her own path - the black nanny who cared for her.  

Tena Clark was born in 1953 in a tiny Mississippi town close to the Alabama border, where the legacy of slavery and racial injustice still permeated every aspect of life. On the outside, Tena’s childhood looked like a fairy tale. Her father was one of the richest men in the state; her mother was a regal beauty. The family lived on a sprawling farm and had the only swimming pool in town; Tena was given her first car - a royal blue Camaro - at 12.   

But behind closed doors, Tena’s life was deeply lonely and chaotic. By the time she was three, her parents’ marriage had dissolved into a swamp of alcohol, rampant infidelity, and guns. Adding to the turmoil, Tena understood from a very young age that she was different from her three older sisters, all of whom had been beauty queens and majorettes. Tena knew she didn’t want to be a majorette - she wanted to marry one.   

On Tena’s 10th birthday, her mother, emboldened by alcoholism and enraged by her husband’s incessant cheating, walked out for good, instantly becoming an outcast in society. Tena was left in the care of her black nanny, Virgie, who became Tena’s surrogate mother and confidante - even though she was raising nine of her own children and was not allowed to eat from the family’s plates or use their bathroom. It was Virgie’s acceptance and unconditional love that gave Tena the courage to stand up to her domineering father, the faith to believe in her mother’s love, and the strength to be her true self.   

Combining the spirit of poignant coming-of-age memoirs such as The Glass Castle and vivid, evocative Southern fiction like Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Discomfort is about the people and places that shape who we are - and is destined to become a new classic.

©2018 Tena Clark (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Southern Discomfort

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Beautifully written and beautifully narrated!

This is a wonderful moving story of a young child in south at some of our nations most tenuous times. To think this is a true story blows my mind even more! It’s a must listen to hear the author herself tell her story. She is so good at taking you away into the story and characters.

4 people found this helpful

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Dear, Dear Virgie.

Bless this author for all that she has lived. All of it. While I can't speak in kindness about her father, I loved how she was able to love her mother as she neared the end of her days. And I loved the purple posicle. Very powerful. She gave her mother control of her own life. The nannies are the most important part of her growing up years. They were the anchors in her stormy life. The last visit, and the ice cream moved me to tears. How beautiful.

3 people found this helpful

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A Best Seller Fo Sho!

Tena Clark has written a raw and honest story that is gripping. It is her life and growing up in a family with a disfunctional mother and father, set in a sleepy Mississippi town in the days of segregation and Jim Crowe. Tena was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Mississippi and an alcoholic mother, who had unrealized dreams of being a star. Tena was one of four girls, all interesting in their own right, but the story is Tena's. I listened to the audible version told in Tena's own voice. She has a gift for putting words together in a first person voice that few writers have. The characters come alive and Tena's story is gripping. It is a must read story you don't want to miss. I listened almost nonstop because I had to know what happened next. When I had finished I felt exhausted and yet happy. I was there for eight hours and twenty-eight minutes. Tena had won! Her mother had won! This is a love story set in the deep south. It is a story that will stay with me forever!

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Sweet. and Real

I enjoyed Ms. Clark's wonderful Missisissippi lilt. I must admit that I also enjoyed that her dysfunctional southern family was slightly more dysfunctional than my southern dysfunctional family. Thank you for sharing.

1 person found this helpful

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Not your ordinary Southern novel

Love the author’s southern accent and passionate way of telling this unique but ever so common story of what is thrived for as a child, what is expected as a parent and how it all dissolves when the time comes.

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Recognizable for any G.R.I.T.S.

If you were born before 1974, and if you're a Girl Raised in the South (true G.R.I.T.S.) , the voices, stories, histrionics, and tangled relationship webs will be wholly recognizable. Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Conner scribbled around the edges of the true stories of our Southern life and times. Tena Clark brings to life the sweetness, the sorrow, the hilarious, and the horrific as she lays bare the bleeing veins of her youth.

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Good read

Educating, interesting, surprising, funny and sad. Author did god job of reading the book. I am impressed at how she survived the south and her parents, even knowing she loved them greatly despite there actions. For a true story the end had me feeling it all. Great job.