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Book Review: Pure Heart, A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit, and Whiskey

By Annell Gerson

Decatur author Bret Witter began his literary career working in a book store and ended up as editorial director for HCI Books before branching out on a new writing venture. In 2006, Witter set out to help others tell their stories and has since co-authored eight New York Times bestsellers.

Reflecting on his books, Witter notes, books tend to focus on ...the nobility of the ordinary: the joy that comes with working hard for personal goals, even if relatively few ever notice. The heroes of my stories dont become rich or famous; instead, they find happiness and purpose.

Pure Heart, A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit, and Whiskey, released in trade paperback last November, is Witters most recent collaboration. The book certainly begins as a telling of the ordinary, but as Troy Balls life unfolds, readers quickly realize that her love of family, her steadfast tenacity, and her unwavering optimism are extraordinary.

Raising three sons, two of whom are severely disabled, consumes every minute of every day. Between frequent doctor and hospital visits, devising unique methods for communication for her sons who cannot speak, developing a diet to help alleviate one sons seizures, and creating the healthiest environment possible, there is little time for much else. When the family moves from Austin to Asheville, Troy stumbles upon a local past-time she innocently pursues with curiosity. With the financial collapse of her husbands real estate development project, her interest in distilling moonshine changes from curiosity to necessity.

Though raised in a severely religious home, and despite consuming a total of maybe twenty glasses of alcohol in her life, Troy needs to head off foreclosure, pay for her sons healthcare, and buy groceries, so she launches her own moonshine distilling business. In the process, so much goes wrong, but just enough goes right to keep her going. In the U.S., there are only four women licensed to distill hard liquor; as head of Troy and Sons, Troy Ball is one of them.

Pure Heart, A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit, and Whiskey is a compelling and inspirational story.