KJ Grow's Reviews > Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home

Made for You and Me by Caitlin Shetterly
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Mar 11, 2011

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bookshelves: memoir
Read from March 11 to 15, 2011

I like to tell people that reading a good "trainwreck" memoir is my greatest guilty pleasure. Women scorned, love lost, worlds unraveled - this is the delicious stuff of reality tv made all the more intimate when told long form in the author's own voice. I always have mixed feelings about these books - I respect the authors for baring their souls and revealing the messiness of their lives in such a courageous way ("unflinching" seems to be the word that appears on the flap copy of all these books), yet I always feel some sense of irritation at the self-importance that seems to permeate these books.

I think Shetterly's tale isn't quite a trainwreck story, but it is one of repeated disappointment, dreams deferred, lives upended, and good people dealing with circumstances beyond their control. And it's a story about just how much we need to support each other in these tough times when employment can be difficult to come by and care (in every sense of the term) can be scarce. There are some important universal themes here and for many people, this could be a representative American story. But for many more people, even Shetterly's "failures" are out of reach. An alternative title for the book might be, "How I Couldn't Afford to Shop at Whole Foods Anymore and Wrote an Interesting Blog About It That Was Picked Up By NPR." There's something maddeningly insular here that seems to bolster the image of the American dream as a sort of privileged lifestyle that the young, white, and educated feel fiercely entitled to.
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