Grace's Reviews > 1923: A Memoir

1923 by Harry Leslie Smith
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's review
Mar 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: arcs, memoir, world-war-ii, read-in-2011
Read from August 14 to 15, 2011

This review originally appeared on my book review blog Feeding My Book Addiction: http://feedingmybookaddiction.blogspo...

Smith's coming of age memoir takes readers on a journey of poverty and heartbreak that is the author's childhood and young adulthood growing up between the first and second world wars. Smith stays true to himself and his inner voice as he recounts the events of his early life. The narrative flow develops and ages, if you will, as he does throughout the book. It's incredibly powerful to see a precocious child harden under his circumstances and age into an adult set on escaping the ever looming workhouse and empty stomach that seemed to define his childhood.

This is one of those memoirs that will stay with you long after you finish reading it because of the author's ability to put his life onto the page without holding back or sugarcoating the details. He digs deep into the infidelity of his mother, the shunning of his father, and the relationship he has with his sister that falls apart once they survived childhood and struck out on their own. I heard the sounds of dishes shattering on the kitchen floor and felt the weight of Smith's mother as he and his sister dragged her drunken and limp body from the curb into the house after a night spent at the bar.

While reading, I did notice a few typographical and grammatical errors; however, Smith's life story was so powerful that I registered the errors and kept right on reading. Typically, typos, misspellings, and other grammatical mistakes jar me from the narrative and make me lose credibility in the author, but not in this case. I kept on reading, immersed in Smith's poignant and heartbreaking life to see if and how he would overcome every obstacle imaginable for a child.

1923: A Memoir is a compelling read that I would recommend to memoir and history lovers alike.
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