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Sonic Memories/and other essays

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This collection of personal essays begin in Utah in the late seventies. The author is two, her little sister a baby, and her parents are hopeful newlyweds in their early twenties. We follow the family back to Maryland where her father’s dream to practice law disintegrates and his upwardly mobile hopes for his family are dashed. The fallout—a fear of being trapped in a life of poverty and dreams deferred—dogs the author through most of her young adult/adult life. Despite these hurdles she manages to put herself through college, move to Los Angeles after, and build a life on her own terms. In this coming of age story, she seeks to unearth her authentic self and in doing so rediscovers the fierce girl within—that curious and fearless girl she was as a child.

105 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2016

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Cija Jefferson

1 book5 followers

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for Ann Marie.
88 reviews34 followers
September 2, 2016
Cija Jefferson conjures up the nostalgia of having to go home when the street lights turn on, while also packing you in her luggage and taking you for a new adventure. Her imagery is gorgeous, her stories are engaging, and the book's cover art is rad.
Profile Image for Michael B Tager.
Author 15 books14 followers
July 13, 2016
Cija is an exciting new voice. She writes about racial identity and family, fear and comedy in an accessible, awesome voice. Take heed, y'all readers. Take heed.
Profile Image for Christopher Warman.
Author 5 books4 followers
June 7, 2016
Cija Jefferson's memoir Sonic Memories and Other Essays is as fearless and fierce as Jefferson herself. A collection of nine essays on her childhood, family, coming of age, and self-discovery, it's an immensely enjoyable introduction to Cija as a person and memoirist.

A lot of the strength of this collection derives from Jefferson's fierceness. The well-defined sardonic voice and consistent self-effacing humor do well to carry the work between the incredulous, true moments from Jefferson's life. Jefferson's stories may be fairly ordinairy--typical traumas of childhood and young adulthood drive much of the plot--but her commitment to the driving force of "rediscovering her fierce girl" place these moments in a binding context and, along with the aforementioned voice and humor, make the proceedings interesting and very readable. The best part about this collection, however, is the fearless way Jefferson portrays herself. Jefferson is not afraid to present herself as an unsympathetic character, particularly in the earlier essays from her childhood where, as fierce as fierce girl Cija is, she can be a jerk, as well as in the listless moments of her young adulthood. With Jefferson's willingness to be so frank in her depictions of herself, readers cannot help but invest their trust in Jefferson and the stories she tells.

While the page-to-page experience is largely excellent, I did get bogged down as I read through the collection, particularly in the middle, when Cija heads west after college to find herself. While the collection isn't necessarily presented as a single memoir (see "Other Essays" in the title; table of contents), the pieces do read as if they have been arranged in chronological order. Those middle essays, particularly Midnight Run to Mexico, lose a lot of the momentum present in the beginning and end of the collection. Perhaps this is reflective of Jefferson's own experiences in California, where, based on the two essays, the path of her life seemed to grind to a halt. Maybe it was lost in the daze of those two chapters, but I also couldn't seem to grasp where exactly Jefferson lost her "fierce girl" attitude, which she has in the beginning and is trying to reclaim at the end of the collection. Perhaps this too is a reflection of Jefferson's experiences; maybe she is being forthright when she asks about whatever happened to the girl fearless girl who would stand in waterfalls. Maybe she really doesn't know or there wasn't a particular moment of her life where it "happened". That's interesting in its own right, how the book reflects how we slowly change over time, but wake up one day and realize it as if it were a sudden shift and long to be who we were before.

Jefferson's book is an excellent introduction to Cija and her writing. The more you get to know her, through both her mistakes and her glories, the more you will like her. When you close the book, you'll be left wanting to know more and wanting to see where she goes next.
Profile Image for Tracy.
Author 5 books24 followers
July 5, 2021
Cija Jefferson will make you laugh and cry with her insights. Her vivid description and insight reminded me of my own memories I thought were long gone.

"I sat side-by-side in the comfortable silence of our five-year friendship and hours spent traversing the country together. I felt free, unencumbered by the daily minutia that comprised life as I had known it. I had no idea what tomorrow would bring and I didn't care. That's a feeling I wish I could bottle up and put in a safe. Break in case of emergency." - (58)

In this stage of the pandemic, I'm still very emotional reading passages like the one above--a moment in time full of promise and movement. Jefferson captured the movement of her life beautifully.

For fans of Sloane Crosley, R. Eric Thomas.
1 review
August 22, 2020
There was so much to love about this book, it's hard to pick out a few to highlight for a review. It was also hard to put down, and I read it cover to cover in one afternoon! What I loved most about this book, was its ability to transport me to the moment being described. I was either there in the author's memory, or back to my own memory triggered by the familiarity of the story. I only wish I had read it sooner.
Profile Image for Gwen Velsor.
Author 4 books18 followers
March 24, 2017
Cija Jefferson takes the reader from one vivid memory to the next in this page turning memoir. Her writing flows easily and effortlessly, leaving the reader space for their own reflections. The honest portrayal of her family members was so real, warm and tangible. I am busy gobbling up anything/everything by this author.
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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