Cheryl Unruh’s Gravedigger’s Daughter is an insightful, generous-spirited book that creates a vivid sense of both place and time by telling the story of growing up in Pawnee Rock, a small town in Barton County during the 1960s and ‘70s. Unruh’s relationship with her father, an unassuming yet extraordinary man, is affectionately and unsentimentally rendered. The author’s understanding of the character of her father and hometown is delineated by an original writing style that is lean, colloquial, and understated while at the same time detailed, colorful, and intense; the language is both plain-spoken and elegant. The natural and cultural history of the place are woven into the narrative in fresh and surprising ways that enable the reader to experience multiple dimensions of Kansas history while following the ups and downs of the lives of the people featured in the story.
2022 Martin Kansas History Judge