Jennifer (aka EM)'s Reviews > Coming of Age in Mississippi: The Classic Autobiography of a Young Black Girl in the Rural South

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

it was ok
Read from September 18 to 29, 2012

caveat - I stopped about 2/3rds of the way. The style was so emotionally flat that it "evened out" the horror of the racism she was enduring, and the events she was witnessing, with the effect of almost sanitizing them. This was compounded by Moody coming across as self-centred (at least) and arrogant (at worst). The reconciliation scene with her mother was a case in point: she acknowledged she had behaved horribly but then ... kept behaving horribly, and with the shallowest, most egotistical excuse. Also, she described things from such a distance that it was kind of hard to get connected to them - and very hard to get connected to her, since she was so cut off from her own emotions.

Now, of course, that kind of affectless response to horror in the re-telling s a classic product of trauma, but here's where I say to every memoirist: yeah, but ... the story needs you to tell it.

I couldn't even keep going to the point where she becomes an activist. Maybe something would have clicked for me then, but really, at the most it would have meant a strong finish to a book that was inconsistent, slow, poorly-written and unengaging despite its massive potential to be exactly the opposite.

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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by jo (new)

jo i have this book.

Jennifer (aka EM) am struggling.

message 3: by jo (new)

jo ha. was waiting to hear what you had to say so maybe i could read it alongside you.

Jennifer (aka EM) I'm half through and she's not yet got into the meat of things - i.e., her involvement in the civil rights movement. Maybe it will get better, but right now I'm finding the writing style flat and affectless.

message 5: by jo (new)

jo them's harsh words.

Jennifer (aka EM) I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Jennifer (aka EM) Yep - she did. I think she mentioned it in her review of The Help, and that's when I first put it on the list.

I'm totally fixated now on the disconnect between the emotion she should or does report feeling (or the behaviour she reports which is a manifestation of that emotion) and the language/tone with which she describes it. Her 'voice' is a complete monotone.

message 8: by jo (new)

jo i don't know how familiar you are with slave narratives (of which this is not an example, but still) but most of them are like that. these people are not necessarily writers. also, the age of the creative memoir had not yet risen.

thought i'd offer this small reflection. i'll now retreat.

Jennifer (aka EM) That's a very good reflection, jo - and I know I'm judging it not necessarily by a fair standard. But here I am, reading and judging. Memoirs, I struggle. For this very reason, I think. I only like them when they read like fiction.

Jennifer (aka EM) I know I know - I need to read Strayed.

message 11: by jo (new)

jo i haven't told you ONCE that you need to read strayed. not ONCE.

Jennifer (aka EM) I was hearing a voice in my head. You're right, it mayn't have been yours. But I thought I heard you agreeing with it. ;-)

message 13: by jo (new)

jo it's just that i try so very hard never to give unsolicited book advice (with exceptions that i consider acceptable), so that took me aback.

Jennifer (aka EM) goodness - why ever not? I welcome book suggestions from you, solicited or unsolicited. I'm so sorry if you took offense. :-?

message 15: by jo (new)

jo nooooooooooooo. no offense! i'll give you all sorts of book advice!

Jennifer (aka EM) ps - this book is getting better. or, I'm reading it differently. or, both.

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