The Sound of Gravel

Ruth Wariner’s childhood, as depicted in The Sound of Gravel, is full of abuse. She knew it, it seems like everyone around her knew it, but in order to accept their beliefs, they had to overlook so much. Young girls becoming second or third wives to incredible old men. Men marrying more and more women when they couldn’t support the wives and children they had. Women relying on the American welfare system to pay for their lives in Mexico since by law they were not married, but single mothers of many, many children. Apologizing for sexually abusing children and being let back into the home because the man just felt so bad.

Horrifying stories filled with love for each other and hope that everything will be ok. This doesn’t focus much on the religious reasons for their lives, but more on the functional disruption it causes. The personal hurts that people, especially the women and children endure, in order to live the word of their god.

Interesting and terrifying.

Read June 2019.

Advertisements

Childtimes

Eloise Greenfield and her mother, Lessie Jones Little wrote this memoir about their childhood along with Lessie’s mother and Eloise’s grandmothers childhood. This memoir doesn’t dive too deep into politics or racism, but its about their childhood, not their adulthood when they would have had to deal more with that.

Each memoir – grandmother, mother, daughter, is told with short blips of events or people that they remember from their childhood. There’s lots to read through, the abject poverty, the overt and subtle racism, sexism, but there’s also a sense of freedom that belongs to childhood. They aren’t mired down with the world around them, but they seem to live in a nice bubble with their family, friends, and neighbors.

This memoir allowed for good, introduction to racism discussions with kids and it hints at much bigger events.

Read February 2019

Educated

Holy crap, this is a phenomenal memoir!! Educated tells how someone who wants and needs education gets it when almost everyone around them is against it. Tara Westover survived a childhood that left members with severe burns, major concussions, probable brain damage, and physical abuse scars.

Westover grew up in a Mormon family whose father valued preparing for the end of the world more than the safety of his family. She grew up as a wild child who believed everything her father said as true and eschewed education and “normalcy”. When she starts venturing into her town and seeing that there’s something else out there, her desire for an education increases. On her own, with no formal training, she is accepted into college. As her education increases she ends up alienating her family. By speaking the truth about their family’s past, her family doesn’t know how to accept her and she doesn’t know if she can pretend it never happened.

Very powerful memoir of the power of family and the power of education. Ultimately, Tara has to decide what truth she can live with and accept the consequences of that decision.

Excellent read!

Read August 2018

What Happened

What a depressing read. To realize that someone who can articulate so many complex issues and see fault with themselves and find ways to improve could’ve been President. Hillary Rodham Clinton really dives into what she believes went wrong with her 2016 Presidential campaign. Whether its completely accurate, I cannot say, but she has many strong arguments about why she lost the election.

While I agree with Mrs Clinton herself when she says she’s not the best about speaking about herself, she is quite good at talking political points and telling other people’s stories. While clunky in parts, the book went through so many different topics that affected her campaign and her career leading up to it.

Important read. Read February 2018.

How to be a Woman

How to be a Woman is part memoir and part feminist educational material. Caitlan Moran is a British journalist and she uses this memoir to explore her relationship with her own womanhood and help define feminism for woman who may be uncomfortable with that term. She sums it up basically saying if you have a vagina and want to  be in charge of it, you’re a feminist! I can’t disagree but was surprised that it took this comedic look at feminism to admit that they were feminists. A little disappointing in some friends, but at least they learned.

Anyway, this was a funny look at all things woman: from waxing, periods, pregnancy, how society views women, aging, and so much more.

I was amused throughout the book and thought Moran’s personal history was worthy of a book by itself. Her relationship with her sister cracked me up!

Great read!!

Read February 2017

Yes Please

Amy Poehler is fucking funny. I want to be her best friend. In Yes Please, she talks about how hard she’s worked to get where she is in her career and she doesn’t take any of it for granted. She talked about her beginning in improv, her stint on SNL, her current work in Parks and Recreation, and she’s just so funny.

In the book, there were many guest writers which I thought appropriate since she’s used to writing with a team. And you can tell that she loves all the people she talks about, even her ex-husband, and never says anything bad about her friends. She’s also a mom to 2 young kids and hasn’t always been the best person. She owns up to her failures and makes me cry with her, and then makes me laugh because she’s just so fucking funny.

Anyway, this is a memoir and she talks a lot about things that I’ve never heard of or watched. But the best part of reading this is looking up all the stupid skits online and laughing out loud.

This was a great book! Much funnier that any memoir I’ve ever read.

Read July 2015.

Then Again

Before talking about Diane Keaton’s memoir, Then Again, let me say that I’ve never had a strong opinion about Diane Keaton. Her role in Baby Boom was one of my favorite as a young girl, but I never saw her iconic movie Annie Hall until I was in college and at that point, while I could appreciate some of its charm and cinematic significance, it just felt dated. I also knew nothing of her personal life or much about her acting life.

Now that I’ve read Then Again, I don’t feel like I’m better off. For someone who led a pretty interesting life, Diane Keaton mostly focused on her relationship with her mother. A relationship that, while not great, was a pretty decent mother-daughter relationship. She describes her mother as a lost artist and she shares a kinship with her. But, to be honest, I don’t really care about her relationship with her mother. I also was not interested in very much that she had to say. In this memoir, Keaton relates that Woody Allen wrote the role of Annie Hall based on her and her family. That is interesting. Her description of Warren Beatty as a lover, director, and actor didn’t last long, yet it was one of the more interesting sections. Yet, somehow, her mother’s presence dominated the pages.

It felt like Diane Keaton had a ghost writer and anytime something too personal came up, Keaton wouldn’t allow the writer to expand on it. But the writer recognized the interesting parts of the story and tried to include them as best as they could. Or Keaton knew that people’s interest would be peeked by her small personal revelations, and included them to help boost sales. Either way, this book might be better suited to a contemporary of Diane Keaton’s who could appreciate the time period where the majority of movies came out. I kept having to reference her movies online to try to remember if I’d ever seen them. For the most part, I have not.

Overall, I would say this book was not terribly engaging since I knew very little about the topic ahead of time and the most interesting parts were condensed stories. For anyone interested in Diane Keaton’s life, this memoir would be a required read and wouldn’t take too long to get through.

Read July 2014.