I finally buckled down and made myself finish the 2nd half of this book. My review of this book is really mixed up and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. Its weird reviewing a memoir. You can’t review a person’s life and put a seal of approval on it. That’s not for me to judge. So, I shall review the technical aspects of the book, namely the writing style.
Mary Karr’s childhood is frightening, inspiring, and just plain crazy. I discovered whole new levels of crazy. The strength to survive was so primal, yet progressive in her sister Lecia. Her dad was the solid foundation of sanity and security, and the time when he wasn’t there, proved to be some of the worse moments of her childhood. The whole family worked well with each other, balancing each other out in some way that only makes sense to them. They work as counterparts to each other, supporting, humbling and always willing to die for each other.
My major complaint about this book, is that there was too much going on. Each page was filled with dramatic episode after dramatic episode, and Karr has a very blunt perspective on her childhood, which I admire. It takes a lot of courage to say “this is what happened, I own up to it”. People always make excuses for their childhood, blaming everyone but themselves. But I didn’t feel that she expected to draw pity out of her readers. She just wanted to share her story.
My other complaint, is that her transitions between stories in chapters were awkward, jumpy and just left me confused. She would spend pages and pages detailing her duck-hunting trips with her father, yet would only tersely jump from pissing off a parent, to being sexually abused by some unknown, unnamed babysitter. Obviously, one incident is more traumatic than the other, and I can understand why she wouldn’t want to spend too much focusing on the latter incident. It just struck as very out of the blue they way it would take place when most of her stories would have a full set-up.
She is a funny writer though. Her sense of humor made some of the worse scenes easier to read. Those are the two aspects of the memoir that I enjoyed the most. Her sense of humor and the incredibly strong family loyalty. Whether its driven by fear, or just plain love, this is one family that starts storms and fights them off together.
I’m not sure who I would recommend this book too. All I can say is pick a random chapter somewhere in the book and read it. If you like what you read, keep going, if you don’t…well, just put it back on the shelf and keep moving. This book takes some dedication to read though, it deserves a lot of time and energy to plow through the 312 pages.