To me, the appeal of a memoir is the chance to crawl into someone else’s skin and get behind their eyes to know what they are thinking and feeling.
In a way, it’s a mystery.
What would it be like trying to get into college if you’d never gone to school? What would it be like almost losing your life and clawing your way back to every skill you lost? What would it be like finding out, at age 54, that the foundation of what you believed about yourself as a person wasn’t true? What would it be like serving as the First Lady of the United States?
There’s a way to find out.
Read these memoirs.
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Educated by Tara Westover
Easily the best memoir I’ve read all year.
How do you earn a Phd without attending school till before age 17?
This question drives the book, but there’s so much more: mental illness, brainwashing, belief systems accepted and rejected, family dynamics, isolationism and, mostly, confronting your history honestly without bitterness.
There’s a few heroes I love in this narrative, in addition to Tara herself who confronts her own story with transparency and courage. She dares to travel the road not taken.
Hope Heals by Katharine and Jay Wolf
Talk about courage in the face of loss.
At age 26 Katharine suffered a brainstem stroke that almost took her life. Her husband was at the point of graduating from law school. Their baby was six months old.
The chronicle of their journey is sobering and inspiring.
How would my faith hold up in those circumstances? How would I handle a similar challenge?
Hats off to the Wolfs for their courage, faith and transparency.
This book was recommended by a blog reader. (Thanks, Jennifer!)
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
Truly a remarkable human drama.
Finding out that her dad was not her biological father was just the beginning for Dani Shapiro.
Though that revelation was startling in itself, more secrets were uncovered. The shock waves continued.
Dani takes the reader along on this unexpected journey of self-discovery. The advances of modern science have made the unthinkable possible.
Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush
I love Laura Bush’s humble spirit. I love her ordinary every-day-ness. Even though she became First Lady of the United States, she tells of being content with simple pleasures.
One day her friend came to visit her in the White House. They worked out together and then relaxed in the sitting room, each reading their own book.
Another story in this memoir made a lasting impression.
On page 113, she recounts, “Once, when the girls were two and a half, Bar Bush made a rare stop in Midland. Jenna and Barbara ran out of the house with their arms held out to greet her, calling ‘Ganny’, the name all Bushes give their grandmothers, and she looked up at me and said with gratitude, ‘Thank you for teaching your girls to know me.’ ”
It’s a heart melting story, but to me it drove home the importance of intentionally bridging the gap with far away family.
It resonated because my nuclear family and the family we raised both have experience with long distance family relationships. I wrote a post about it. Closing the gap: connecting across the miles.
What have you been reading lately?