There is a tension between old and new that remains a keynote throughout the book. Learning to accept the duality of her nationality, Eva reclaims her old self and her old name and transforms it into a unique hybrid. Ask No Questions is a book that explores serious topics. The trauma and sadness of the refugee experience is rarely covered through the viewpoint of a child, and Eva teases out that perspective with poetic delicacy, tracing the way in which this perception changes through time.
A review of Lady Director by Joyce Chopra
Only, how to break into the male-dominated world of film? Not that that was her explicit goal when she graduated, but one thing she did not want to do? “There weren’t many jobs available for a young woman of twenty-one with a degree in comparative literature,” she writes, but she didn’t want to become a secretary. If she did that, “I would irrevocably land on the slippery slope to nowhere.”
A review of American Seoul by Helena Rho
A language constitutes a world; that idea is significant in Rho’s memoir. She goes into a Korean shop for lunch with her daughter, and a woman working there encourages her to speak Korean, as does a woman, a minister’s wife, with whom Rho talks on the phone about lessons in Korean for her daughter and son. Growing up, she didn’t speak Korean with her parents.
A review of Our Laundry, Our Town by Alvin Eng
For Alvin Eng, a Chinese American punk rocker who is now an educator and a playwright, this has meant ‘a spiritual state of homelessness,” moving between the Foo J. Chin Chinese Hand Laundry and an American frame of reference. This reflective and personal narrative is his first memoir, and a change from his dramatic writing.
A review of How to Be Between by Bastian Fox Phelan
Bastian Fox Phelan’s memoir How to Be Between leans right into these societal norms, exposing them for the controlling mechanisms that they are, designed to make use feel chronically inadequate so we’re easier to sell to or control. These norms force an unnatural binary between male and female, attractive and unattractive, straight and queer. How to Be Between rejects these binaries and instead offers up the possibility of living a life without such constraints.
Empathy and Memoir: A Review of Cheryl Klein’s Crybaby
As a thirty-nine year old woman who is navigating fertility clinics and the adoption process, I inhaled this book, which is about a woman, Klein, trying to have a baby. In my online yoga class, we are asked to stretch up to the point where it hurts. This is how far Klein takes her writing: to the point it hurts, presumably for her and definitely for the reader.
A review of Angle of Flickering Light by Gina Troisi
Angle of Flickering Light tells an honest story. It’s the story of a life in progress, marked at its beginning by a series of small, devastating acts—a parent who should protect and cherish instead abuses.
A review of The Age of Fibs by Beth Spencer
It is always both true and fictive, and like dreams, pieced together from a grab-bag of images and turned into stories that reflect the themes being explored. The Age of Fibs picks up on this uncertainty beautifully and works with it, allowing for openness, complexity, and fragmentation, while still keeping the coherency of the story intact.
A review of The Pink Book by Henry Von Doussa
The book is a series of personal essays and collages bound in an exquisite coffee-table book; it bursts with colour and nuance yet simplicity and dedication to the characters and stories that lie within. Interwoven with touchingly personal stories of childhood and young adulthood and philosophies on life, it is a challenge to put The Pink Book down.
Clarity That Could Cut Through Bone: A Review of Listen Mama
Listen Mama is less a traditional memoir and more a compilation of the author’s journal entries, many of which were written at the tender but precocious age of 14. These entries stretch over more than 19 years, covering in real time the heartaches, health problems, and general misfortunes that were thrown at this unfortunate person. What Williams brings to the memoir is a clarity that could cut through bone and a sober reconciliation with the past that can only come with age and knowing.