Intimate, personal, and heartfelt. These memoirs will take you on a personal journey.
What is it about memoirs? Is it a voyeuristic streak in the reader? What motivates us to read what celebrities and others have to say about intimate parts of their lives? Perhaps we seek inspiration, perhaps reassurance that for all their glamour famous people have the same mundane problems as we do. Then there is the non-celebrity memoir, why do we want to read about someone else’s friendships, childhoods or family relationships?
Reading any of our Adult Summer Reads: Moving Memoirs selections answers some of these questions. It does help put our lives in perspective to realize that others, famous or not deal with the same highs and lows, health issues both physical and mental, loves, losses and general vicissitudes of life as the average person.
When Bertolt popped up in my periphery, I knew I had to read it, especially in the wake of The Giving Tree. (In case you missed it, you can see my thoughts about Silverstein’s book here.) Like The Giving Tree, Bertolt also features a relationship between a (nameless) boy and the titular tree – I hesitate to say his tree, even though he has named it, because although I think he feels an affinity with it and identifies it as his own, it’s less a matter of belonging or ownership so much as the fact that it is with this particular tree and not another that he has a special connection – but veers into a completely different direction altogether, and it’s both heartwarming and sad because no sooner do we feel the complete love of this boy for the tree do we learn that the tree can no longer give him what his memories hold: Bertolt is dead.
In light of this, the boy meditates upon the death of his friend, Bertolt, the big oak tree, and is thrown into a sort of controlled turmoil: were Bertolt to have been struck by lightning or cut down, at the very least, the boy says, he would know for sure. His excitement during the winter served to sadden him even further once spring came around, and the fact that he never realized when exactly it was that Bertolt’s life quietly ended only compounds the realization that this year, this spring, will be different from all the springs past. The little boy thinks about what he can do to remember Bertolt and all the fun times they had together – getting to know the inhabitants of the big tree, climbing up to people-watch the inhabitants of the city – and comes up with a beautiful idea to give the tree its foliage once more.
I just finished Susan Mallery’s A Million Little Things, and found it to be a very appropriate read over the Mother’s Day weekend. This story surrounds three women’s personal stories of grief, family, romance and difficult choices. The story starts off with Zoe who gets trapped in an attic and begins to think of the choices she made in her life, such as changing her career to satisfy someone she thought she loved. Zoe’s best friend, Jen, is struggling as a first-time mom hovering over her toddler son and constantly worrying that he hasn’t spoken a word yet. Finally, Jen’s mom and Zoe’s friend, Pam, cannot seem to move on from her late husband and rejects any idea of falling in love again. These women’s stories intertwine with each other’s as they all have a kind of relationship with one another. Because of these intertwined stories, I was never left wondering what was happening to any character at a particular time. Continue reading