Phoebe lives most of her life reeling from the grief of having lost her father and then her older sister, Faith, before she reached her adolescence.
HePhoebe lives most of her life reeling from the grief of having lost her father and then her older sister, Faith, before she reached her adolescence.
Her sister was a flower child and fell to her death from a cliff in an Italian seaside town. At the age of 18, Phoebe decides to pursue her sister's ghost through Europe to see if she can decipher what really happened to her.
She explores the shadows of the 60s and the flower children and skirts the memories of her childhood. This book is an excellent exploration of the pathways of grief, and the emptiness experienced by a child who clearly understood that she was never her parent's "favorite." ...more
Great memoir/travelogue about a woman who returns to India after an ill-fated visit in her 20s; her second time around she lives there for 2 years andGreat memoir/travelogue about a woman who returns to India after an ill-fated visit in her 20s; her second time around she lives there for 2 years and grows to love India....more
Extremely well-written memoir/nonfiction book about a horrible racially motivated killing in N. Carolina, the history of the Black Freedom movement, aExtremely well-written memoir/nonfiction book about a horrible racially motivated killing in N. Carolina, the history of the Black Freedom movement, and the way it has affected the author....more
The author writes about her days as a young nun and her decision to leave the convent--does convey the church in a positive light in spite of her depaThe author writes about her days as a young nun and her decision to leave the convent--does convey the church in a positive light in spite of her departure....more
I read this book several years ago, but it made a strong impression on me. I'd recommend it for anyone who has had an ill relative or loved one, especI read this book several years ago, but it made a strong impression on me. I'd recommend it for anyone who has had an ill relative or loved one, especially a child. It screams out for the necessity of family-centered health care!
Now that my oldest son has developed epilepsy, I need to go back and reread this treasure....more
First of all, Charles J. Shields deserves kudos for tackling such an elusive subject. This is not an authorized biography of Nelle Harper Lee, because of course Lee would not respond to any of Shields' many requests for interviews or information.
He admits in his introduction that he had to rely heavily on the internet, library archives, and unorthodox methods (such as pretending to be one of Lee's college alums and obtaining a mailing list of her classmates). Consequently, I found myself pondering at some of his editorial choices and questioning why he included some of what he did. At times, it seemed like filler. As a result, as far as biographies go, I've read better.
Given the fact that we know so little about Lee's life and motivations, however, this book is a great addition to the Mockingbird canon. Shields, a former English teacher, writes extensively about Lee's friendship with Truman Capote and her childhood in Alabama. The only Capote work I've read is In Cold Blood, although I wasn't aware at the time that Lee assisted him so extensively in the research and writing (and did not receive any credit...apparently because he was envious of Lee's award of the Pulitzer prize).
Shields speculates about Lee's strained relationship with her mother and the fact that she never wrote another book. Again, he must rely on word of mouth, news articles and rare interviews, and guesswork. As a result, I found myself questioning the accuracy. I thought it was tacky and disrespectful that he revealed the name of the Monroeville, Alabama, restaurant where Lee and her sister Alice enjoy eating on a regular basis. We all know she is a woman who values her privacy.
In the end, this book is a fond remembrance of Lee--clearly, Shields has immense respect for his subject. She seemed exceedingly uncomfortable with the trappings of fame and the expectations of writers (to continue to produce). But Shields concludes that Lee has come to peace with her life. Soon after To Kill a Mockingbird was published, Lee wrote to friends, "People who have made peace with themselves are the people I admire most in the world." Shields, too, had to make peace with the lack of his personal insight about Lee, because of her reclusiveness. ...more
I must say that it is refreshing to read a memoir in which the author does not grow up in a dysfunctional family or face overwhelming odds in his or hI must say that it is refreshing to read a memoir in which the author does not grow up in a dysfunctional family or face overwhelming odds in his or her life.
This is the story of a normal, small-town childhood. Zippy was an odd little creature of a child, but I found her adventures to be amusing and the descriptions of her family and neighbors to be well drawn.
I grew up in a suburb rather than a small town, one year before Haven Kimmel, so I could relate to the cultural references. (Although I've never had a lemon phosphate in my life, and I don't even know what that is!)
The book had several memorable passages, such as "Dad had a way of emphasizing certain words that was like Winnie-the-Pooh gone bad," or "it's hotter than billy-be-doggone bangtree outside."
It makes me realize how much excess our children are growing up with to read about how special that one Christmas present was, or how much Kimmel coveted her friend's small jewelry box from Acapulco (lined with red velvet and covered with little shells).
Kimmel writes about viewpoints and experiences that feel so genuine--like how she didn't really believe in Jesus, but she wanted him to be her boyfriend instead. Or how she intuited that the music teacher was hurting, or threatening to hurt her best friend when he gave her private lessons after school, so she insisted on staying there with her friend.
This was definitely a book worth reading. The only reason I am not giving it four stars is that I was ready to be done with it at the end, so I could move onto something that moved on a little more quickly. The chapters did not really connect to each other in any way; it was like a series of short stories about small town life. And I'm not really a fan of short stories. The book left me wondering what happened to her parents and brother, in particular, all complex and sad characters in their own way. Her sister, I have no doubt, has probably lived a happy life.
P.S. I have just read that Kimmel wrote a Zippy Part 2 book, in which I might find out the answers to my questions. I will take a break and then read that one, too, sometime in the next year. Maybe my questions will be answered!...more