lif-bookreview072721-01

—Photo by Terri Schlichenmeyer

See one, do one, teach one.

They say that that’s a good way to gain a new skill: observe, try the action yourself, and then share what you did with someone else. You can learn a lot from another’s experiences, as you’ll see in these great memoirs by women writers...

We all like to think we had a normal growing-up, but what is “normal”? In “Nowhere Girl” by Cheryl Diamond (Algonquin, $27.95), the author recounts a childhood of seeming adventure, spent in a number of countries and continents. By the time she was a teen, she’d done things that most of us only dream of doing, until the nightmare of her life became clear: Diamond was born into a family of criminals and con artists and things were about to get bad...

Similarly, look for “Upper Bohemia” by Hayden Herrera (Simon & Schuster, $26.00), whose free-spirited parents moved Herrara and her sister around from place to place and lifestyle to lifestyle when they were children. The danger inside this story is different than in the Diamond book, but no less heart-wrenching. Both of them are page-turners.

Another memoir of an unconventional upbringing is “The Ugly Cry” by Danielle Henderson (Viking, $27.00). When she was ten years old, Henderson was left for her grandparents to raise, though they were rather unprepared for a child at their ages. As a Black girl being reared in a mostly-white neighborhood, Henderson missed her mother but the woman’s absence turned out to be a gift: Henderson’s feisty, foul-mouthed Grandma never let her forget her capabilities or her strength. Beware the profanity in this tale, and love it anyhow.

When Shawna Kay Rodenberg was just four years old, her father tore his family from their roots in Kentucky and moved them to Minnesota to live in an isolated religious community. In “Kin: A Memoir” (Bloomsbury, $28.00), Rodenberg writes about being a child in a restricted community, and the abuse she endured while living there. But that’s not the end of the tale: after the sexual abuse was revealed, Rodenberg’s family moved back to Kentucky, to kin, and a new-old home in coal country. This tale’s about enduring, and about understanding yourself, your past, your family, and your future.

And finally, there’s “Sacrifice: A Gold Star Widow’s Fight for the Truth” by Michelle Black (Putnam, $28.00), who recounts in her memoir about searching for the truth of how her husband died. He was in Niger in 2017 and was killed in an ambush but Black wasn’t given many details, past that. It was a tragedy that left her with two young boys to raise on her own. She was also left to search for clues and facts of her husband’s death, without the Army’s help.

If these memoirs don’t quite fit what you’re in the mood for, then be sure to ask your favorite bookseller or librarian for more ideas. They’re pros at this and with their help, you’ll be able to see yourself reading one or all of these books.

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