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“Death of the Farm Family” by Sarah Smarsh

The Common - Fall 2019Magazine Review by Makenzie Vance

In the Issue 8 of The Common, Sarah Smarsh describes how her grandfather’s home became a central gathering place for friends and family and then how it was lost after his death. She begins two generations before her own and skillfully condenses her three-generational story into a compelling length.

Smarsh recounts how her drifter grandmother met her grandfather and finally settled down after a life of wandering with her teenage child—Smarsh’s mother. Though the farmhouse served as a communal space for family and friends and a home for eccentric farm traditions like sledding in a canoe behind a truck, the farm fell apart when her grandfather died, leaving a hole in their lives.

Smarsh speaks to all when she illustrates the importance of a central gathering place for a community, and she reaffirms the importance of small farms and the lives lived upon them.


About the reviewer: Makenzie Vance is a creative writing student at Utah State University.

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