Monday, May 13, 2013

Book review - The Bookie's Daughter (A.K.A. Empathy practice through reading)

About a month ago, on a friend's recommendation  I picked up a copy of "The Bookie's Daughter" by Heather Abraham. Here's a link to the website for the book.

I'm a big fan of books and reading in general. I read primarily on an e-reader these days, but I still love to pick up the old paperbacks. I love to get lost in the pages of a great story or to just get a good laugh. Sometimes even the smell of an old book is enough to make me feel good*.


It has been suggested to me that reading books of nonfiction can help you to have empathy by letting you see inside a person's mind, and see the life that they want to share.  Which is what you are all doing right now by reading this blog, seeing into my thoughts.


My review is that I liked the book - I give it two thumbs up! 

I really liked the author's voice that she chose to use in her writing. She was clearly an older woman writing about her experiences as a child and teenager, and I heard the older woman's voice speaking occasionally, looking over our shoulder with the quotes atop each chapter. Primarily, however, I heard the voice of a child. The girl was bright and crass, loving and tough. She had a lot of attitude and she seemed to keep her cool in almost any situation.  I wondered at the time how she managed to remember so many details of events, including specific conversations, from decades ago. Was she inventing them, or did she do research with other witnesses? It seemed hard to believe that a girl so young would remember the past so well.

I know that for me, I remember events down to the last detail when they are horrible, or scary, or one of those moments that seems to last forever. In this case I believe that much of this girl's childhood was exactly that - horrible, scary, and one of those moments that seemed to last forever.

As frightful and heart wrenching some of the events described in the book are, the other thing I particularly enjoyed about the storytelling was the sense that no matter how bad it was the author was never going to go 'too far' with me. She kept it dangerous, but still safe. She held my hand, so to speak, through the darkest parts, and I knew that everything would be okay in the end.

Finally what I really found amazing about the book was no matter how hurtful the members of her family seemed to be, it was absolutely clear that they loved her, and that she loved them.

Read a great book lately? Tell me about it!


*Honestly I was pretty shocked to find the above link exists at all - but apparently I'm not the only one likes how old books smell!


Anonymous said...

The book sounds like a ride on a roller coaster.

Janet said...

Thanks for your thoughts! I agree that it WAS a strongly emotional book but not one where I felt I was being tossed about, like on a roller coaster. Instead it was all about pain and adventure balanced with love and humor.