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LITTLE HOT MAMA - The Flossie Turner Lewis Story [Kindle Edition]

Flossie Turner Lewis , Paula Meseroll
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description




LITTLE HOT MAMA – The Flossie Turner Lewis Story is about a woman of strength, a single mother who raised five children, a black entertainer who performed on the carnival and chitlin circuits, in speakeasies and minstrel shows, and in the swank nightclubs of Miami’s Overtown where the Turner Family shared venues with other greats of the day. From the Deep South to Miami, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles, Flossie lived her life as a performer, a mother, and a woman who could neither read nor write. That was until she decided at the age of 65 to learn how.

Flossie’s story of personal courage, tenacity, and strong values propels the reader through eras of discrimination, broken families, and the itinerant lifestyle of a traveling black entertainment family during and after the Depression. It is both a time capsule of an America seldom written about and a testament to one woman’s triumph over adversity, poverty, and illiteracy.


FLOSSIE TURNER LEWIS began delighting audiences with songs and dances when she was just two years old in 1935. Known by her stage name “Little Hot Mama,” she was the child of black show business stars Hot Papa and Dolly Turner. Flossie, along with her sister LuLu B. and brother Junior, traveled with their parents and performed as the Turner Family Revue. Her own show business career lasted for more than 40 years.

A woman of strength and determination, Flossie raised five children on her own, despite the fact that she could not read or write for most of her life. With the support of the Fayetteville Urban Ministry, the United Way, and her local community, she was finally able to realize her lifelong dream of literacy and received a high school diploma at the age of 72.

A motivating and inspiring personality, Flossie has lobbied Congress and addressed countless clubs and organizations on behalf of adult literacy programs. She has been featured in print articles, public service announcements, and on television and radio talk shows in her drive to promote the importance of literacy.

A most unlikely partnership was born when Flossie Turner Lewis at the age of 69 accepted the National Award For Excellence as the Outstanding Student of 2002 at the National Literacy Conference and met writer Paula Meseroll. Their journey together to chronicle Flossie’s amazing, inspirational, and truly American life’s story took over eight years to write and reach publication as LITTLE HOT MAMA.

Co-author PAULA MESEROLL is a public relations professional and an award-winning freelance writer and columnist whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, including "Syracuse University Magazine", "UB Today", "Central New Yorker Magazine", and "All Kids Considered". A summa cum laude graduate of Marywood University with a degree in communication arts/public relations, she is director of marketing and communications at Syracuse University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3985 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Stay Thirsty Press, An Imprint of Stay Thirsty Publishing, A Division of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. (June 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UD7VOC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,821 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating journey September 9, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What an incredible read! Flossie's storytelling is amazingly moving -- hilariously entertaining one minute and painfully sad the next. As she brings us along her travels through life, it's as easy to get caught up in the thrill of a stage show as it is to get lost in the pain of her intriguingly flawed family dynamic. Flossie's portraits are so vibrant, yet there's no judgment in her voice. She allows people and events to speak for themselves. Flossie Turner Lewis is a truly remarkable woman whose story kept me compulsively turning the pages of this wonderful book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right on Little Hot Mama! August 22, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a wonderful story of survival and entertaining true story that also gives glimpses of american cultural history...I wish I could've seen some of the fun performances! But the book let's us get a peak!
Jacquellen Cicchetto
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping memoir January 22, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Flossie Turner's life is fascinating, and is documented beautifully in this memoir. Her experiences as a performer from an extremely young age are especially captivating and not to be missed. From one page to the next, this story encompasses a full range of emotions. Flossie has faced many difficult trials that she worked hard to overcome, which makes for an enthralling read that cannot help but move the reader. Her triumph over illiteracy as an adult, and her subsequent work as a literacy activist, is an inspiration! This memoir has so much to offer, from a very interesting glimpse at American history through Flossie's lens to her compelling personal drama. I highly recommend it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A" for effort September 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm very glad I read the book and I'm giving it four stars because I cannot rate it at three-and-a-half. Flossie and her family lived a very difficult life, some of which was of their own making. Her story is quite compelling and it was was an eye-opening read for me. I had no idea such performers existed so long into the twentieth century*. I had certainly never heard of the Turner Family previously and for that reason alone, I'm glad I happened upon her story. She seems to write about even her own character flaws with honesty, for which she is to be commended.

But I don't want to critique their lives, only Flossie's writing; she had a co-author so I would have expected a little higher caliber in that department.

And the writing is why I drop it from the four stars I would like to rate it. The writing was at times a bit confusing, such as the events and time line around her mother's death. I thought she died at the young age of forty-three, but then Flossie states she was in her sixties. And sometimes the tense would change in mid-paragraph, so I had to re-read a passage to see if I had mis-read it the first time. I guess better editing would have helped.

And then Flossie's attitude at times confused me. She knew what each member of her family was like, how they used everybody they could, but she continually put herself in situations where they would use her, and then she complained about being used by those very people. Her heart seems to have been in the right place, but I found the "why me" tone of the book annoying.

All-in-all, it's worth reading, even just to educate oneself about an interesting time in history. You should read it.

(*edited 11/10/12; changed "twenty-first century" to "twentieth century," which is when they actually performed)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read March 18, 2012
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This was a book I am very glad I read. Truthfully I could not put it down. Reading about a child who was not ever a child but a entertainer. Flossie Lewis was born to entertainers, raised to be a entertainer, and begain entertaining at the age of 2, where she was called "Lil Hot Mama", a name she kept until age 12. She had no idea of what being a child was like. Going to school was not even a option as the entire family worked the Carnival circuit, yearly until the Carnival went into winter hiatus. When the Mother tried sending her children to school one time, it didn't last long.Out of 4 children, only one could actually read and write, Flossie remained illiterate until her golden years.

While Flossie's mother tried to nuture Flossie and her siblings, the only use the father had for them was as part of the act.

This was a glimpse to African-American "Carny Life" as told by one who grew up in the life, and knew the ups and downs, the highs , the lows, the good, and the bad of the carnival life.

Although good money was made the majority of the time, the money never benefited the family, only the father's gambling addiction, making the family's life miserable.

This book details a part of African-American history I have only been given glimpes of previously. I read books about the great African-American entertainers, but I had never read one about the Afro-Americans on the carnival circuit until now.

Although there were a few errors in the book, I will put it down to the author having to most of the book from her memory, and a bit of lax editing. For instance in one chaper her Mom died at 52 next time it was 63.

Other than that, it was a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the history June 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Many times this book turned into more of a "reference" Some of the descriptions were too detailed and it skipped around a lot. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it didn't skip back and forth to different time periods.(and I'm not talking about back story) It just could have been a lot smoother.

I would definitely recommend this book to others who enjoy history.

Little Hot Mama and her family were very talented. They traveled all over performing in the circus along with other venues.
At times, they made a lot of money, but they spent it or their father gambled it away. The lean times were VERY lean.

I felt terrible for the children that were subjected to the man they called father. I realize it was a different time, but I still can't understand why their mother would stay with someone who made their lives so much worse.

I commend Flossie for getting her education regardless of her age.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story full of life, love and all in between
This was a great story filled with history of a family famous in its own way with so much baggage. It's an amazing story of bravery and determination by a woman who did and saw... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Melissa Grimes
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanna like it...
Very slow and scattered story. I have been reading it for months but can't seem to stay focused long enough to complete it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Shica Bowen
5.0 out of 5 stars WORTH THE READ
Published 4 months ago by myring
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
different, informative
Published 5 months ago by charles myring
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
Inspiring story and was glad to see that her bitterness was replaced with gratitude. Should be required reading for high school students
Published 7 months ago by Hangfire
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Very interesting read. Amazing times she lived through and doubly amazing she was as strong as she was. Thoroughly enjoyed!
Published 7 months ago by Alana Gann
4.0 out of 5 stars This book took me away
I read this book quite a while ago and thought the author did a very good job of depicting her family and her life. She told it the way she saw it, warts and all. Read more
Published 11 months ago by toots
5.0 out of 5 stars More than Hot
A wonderful book that chronicles the lives of the Fabulous Turner family. Talented black entertainers, they worked at clubs, dives, luxury hotels, singing and dancing for adoring... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable biography
I'm sure many more adventures and stories could have been told from this era but not many more compelling in my opinion. Read more
Published 14 months ago by redhead05
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful life story~~
It was hard to read; it was fascinating to read and it was heartbreaking.
It was interesting how insulated they were from racism and hate in those
days. Read more
Published 15 months ago by starlyt
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