Julie Ekkers's Reviews > Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
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's review
May 09, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir
Read in May, 2012

Some aspects of this raw, and beautifully written memoir are devastating: an adoptive mother who is a religious fanatic who cannot receive, or give, love, and an adoptive father too sidelined to do much to counterbalance this formidable force. But this memoir is not concerned with the chronological recounting of horrors made all the more grim by their every day occurrence. Instead, representative details and key moments are revealed so that the author might spend most of her time reflecting on how she forged her identity, and made herself whole in the absence of her adoptive mother's love, and in this aspect, this work--and the spirit behind it--are luminous and triumphant. Fascinating exploration of the tension between Winterson's fury at being landed in her adoptive family, but also being glad, in a way, because that was what she had, and from what she fled to make herself whole. Moving meditation on love--how actually it can be hard to love, and be loved, if you have been mothered in a way that is wanting, and how deeply each of us need to feel we belong, and see our true selves reflected lovingly back to us in our mother's eyes. Relatively short book, but intense, with some absolutely stunning, gorgeous prose. I was both exhausted and exhilarated when I finished.
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