Debbie's Reviews > The Autobiography of My Mother

The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
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's review
Mar 30, 2012

liked it

First let me say that I struggled with what rating to give this book and how to approach a review in general. I feel conflicted. I don’t know if I feel conflicted in regards to my view of this book or if the character and her confliction have affected me.
This book was nothing like I imagined it would be from reading the synopsis on the back of the book. The assumption is that this is a book about a woman whose mother dies giving birth to her and this is a story of her search into who this absent mother was. I felt because both of my parents fly with the angels, I might relate to a story of this type. On one hand I was able to relate in a lot of ways but then on another completely different hand I don’t know if it was the main character or the author herself, annoyed me.
In essence this was a book about a woman who’s mother did die while giving birth to her and her constant struggle to comprehend life and define her identity in the world considering this tragic beginning. The loss of a parent in general is hard but the loss of a mother to a girl/woman is devastation. I get that, completely. The author/main character has a very poetic and fluid way of expressing her feelings and telling the reader how she lives her life. Her mother never was present, her father pushes her away because he’s got his own demons and her step family hates her for what she represents. This is a woman who feels she is not loved, has never been and believes she never will be. She yearns for love so badly and seems to look for it in all the wrong places. Although, I’m sure she’d deny this observation. She claims to love herself so much since no one else does. She can’t keep her hands (or other’s hands for that matter) off of herself. She’s obsessed with it. It really seems a desperate depression tied into the absence of her mother and lack of parental love that she is missing. This distorted mentality manifesting itself into some physical need. She is a wounded woman living her life under the guise of self love. I actually found her very selfish, immature and in need of prayer and a good therapist.
This book has a lot great prose and verse that I found quotable. It reminded me a lot of something’s I’ve read by Toni Morrison or Alice Walker; spiritual, poetic, sometimes lofty. Towards the middle of the book there was an appearance of a lot of what I assume is the author’s idealism or belief system in a sprawling rambling full chapter, which I found myself scanning through. There was a lot of spiritualism that I personally didn’t agree with and didn’t enjoy. At times, the story seemed to jump around. We actually didn’t find out the town or the main characters name until into the book a good way.
All in all, I related on a certain level to the sense of loss and how it affects a life but this character went to a place that I can’t comprehend with her emptiness. It was sad but not morbid. Repetitive is a good word. It was almost as if this talented author found a way to say through 227 pages of print, in various ways, “My mother died giving birth to me, my father is self possessed, I’m hurting but I deny it, I’m empty, my guard is up and I won’t let anyone in.”
I do actually recommend it. I’m a real life observer of characters and do believe that people could relate to one thing or another or maybe all of the characters in this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting but I will say, 3 stars.
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Quotes Debbie Liked

Jamaica Kincaid
“I was a new person then, I knew things I had not known before, I knew things that you can know only if you have been through what I had just been through.”
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother

Jamaica Kincaid
“The inevitable is no less a shock just because it is inevitable.”
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother

Jamaica Kincaid
“The past is a room full of baggage and rubbish and sometimes things that are of use, but if they are of real use, I have kept them.”
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother

Jamaica Kincaid
“No matter how happy I had been in the past I do not long for it. The present is always the moment for which I love.”
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother

Reading Progress

March 30, 2012 – Started Reading
March 30, 2012 – Shelved
April 1, 2012 –
page 47
20.61% ""Parts of my life,incidents in my life then seem when I remember them now, as if they were happening in a very small dark place a place the size of a dollhouse and the dollhouse is at the bottom of a hole, and I am way up at the top of the hole peering down into this little house trying to make out exactly what it is that happened down there.""
April 1, 2012 –
page 87
April 1, 2012 –
page 87
38.16% ""The sun had not yet set completly;it was just at that moment when the creatures of the day are quiet but the creatures of the night have not quite found their voice.It was that time of day when all you have lost is heaviest in your mind:your mother,if you have lost her;your home,if you have lost it;the voices of the people who might have loved you or who you only wish had loved you;""
April 2, 2012 –
page 142
April 4, 2012 –
page 205
89.91% "Almost finished!!!!!"
April 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Renelle (new)

Renelle sounds like its very insightful.

Debbie The main character thinks she is. Review to come...

message 3: by Nizzy (new)

Nizzy Great review. I love it when authors can take a simple story line and build it into something rich. Sounds like it might be a bit of a tear jerker in spots?

Debbie Thanks so much Nizzy! Yes, the creativity of a talented author. It wasn't really a tear jerker in the way that it was written. It wasn't written in a sad or sensative type of way. It's more a "wow" or... I don't know the main character is so closed or shall I say her defense walls were up that you didn't want to cry for her. I don't know that, that will make sense unless one has read it. I say, read it..I'd love to see what you get from it.

message 5: by Cumi (new)

Cumi Turner-brown I could really relate to your reaction, I think you summed it up well!

Debbie Cumi wrote: "I could really relate to your reaction, I think you summed it up well!"

Thanks so much Cumi. Sometimes I go with a "sum up". Sometimes I go with just a response to the way the book made me feel emotionally. Sometimes I invoke the "combo". I think that was a combo. Glad you enjoyed it. ;o)

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