Memoir Book Recommendations & Book Club

Memoir Book Recommendations & Book Club

Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

In this episode, Gayle and Nicole give us numerous memoir books recommendations. If you are into this genre you will find this show interesting and surely you will hear some good reads to get on your shelf. The hosts also do the book club discussion about ‘Mercy Street‘ by Jennifer Haigh.

As always you can find below the whole booklist they run through during the episode:

The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray | Amazon | Bookshop

This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan | Amazon | Bookshop

All of This by Rebecca Woolf by Amazon | Bookshop

Normal Family by Chryta Bilton | Amazon | Bookshop

Solito by Javier Zamora | Amazon | Bookshop

A Place Called Home by David Ambroz | Amazon | Bookshop

Firebrand: A Tobacco Lawyer’s Journey by Joshua Knelman | Amazon | Bookshop

The It Girl by Ruth Ware | Amazon | Bookshop

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Crosby | Amazon | Bookshop

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby | Amazon | Bookshop

Token Black Girl by Danielle Prescod | Amazon | Bookshop

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy | Amazon | Bookshop

Notes on A Silencing by Lacy Carwford | Amazon | Bookshop

Know My Name by Chanel Miller | Amazon | Bookshop

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Tretheway | Amazon | Bookshop

Reading Lolita In Tehran by Nazar Afisi | Amazon | Bookshop

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Nazar Afisi | Amazon | Bookshop

Quit As A Woman by Holly Whitaker | Amazon | Bookshop

Easy Beauty by Chloe Cooper Jones | Amazon | Bookshop

Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh | Amazon | Bookshop

*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support.


[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to another edition of the readerly report today, Gayle and I are going to be discussing memoirs and we are going to be talking about our much-delayed book club book. And we’ve got new book club picks to announce, things that Gale and I picked, that we’re hoping are super compelling, cuz that’s what I need to finish anything right now.

So we’ll have that for you towards the end of the show.

Gayle, how are you and what have you been reading?

[00:00:35] Gayle: I’m fine. I am in a major book rut. Like I, if you’ve ever gone through those times when, just like you just look at, you know, 15 different books and maybe even read the first couple pages and just nothing grabs you.

I have been in that for like over a week and it’s… almost two weeks. It’s really unusual for me. And it’s bothering me, cuz, first of all, my pace has slowed, which is not good if I’m trying to reach a goal, but like it’s depressing me and I don’t it’s perplexing me too, cuz I’m just literally physically surrounded by books. So many books and books.

I wanna read and books I’ve requested and books that I’ve swapped for and books that are from the library. I’ve returned a few library books without reading them. So it’s bothering me a lot.  I started something last night. We’ll see if it sticks. I have no idea the audio is working for me, but I just, I can’t read and I get in bed and then I go on TikTok and I’m like, oh, I’ll read when I finish TikTok.

But like if I had a really good book, it would prevent me from doing that. And I’m just not into anything yet. I hate it.

[00:01:42] Nicole:  What did you start reading?

[00:01:46] Gayle: you’ll laugh. I had checked this book out of the library, out of one library system, and I had renewed it the three times that I was allowed to renew it, and then they wanted it back and then they started threatening fines. So I returned it and then I checked it out of the other library system. This is the beauty of living like on the border between DC and Maryland, is I can easily go to either system, right? So it’s called The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton. I’ve never heard of that before. You never heard of it. Why?

This is the one I’ve lit on after like casting all over the place. I have no idea. It just, for whatever reason, this is the one that I’m just kind of hoping will just snap me out of it. It’s by Eleanor Ray. It came out last year and the Inside Jacket does use the words ‘quirky’ and ‘charming’, which as you know, are the kiss of death for me,

Nicole: Me too.

I think it’s about a woman who is a hoarder, she like lives in England and she hoards stuff in her house. And I, I think it’s going to be about sort of what eventually draws her out of her kind of solitude and her hoarding ways. So like, it might be quirky and charming and I might give it up in like another 10 pages, but like as of Sunday morning, this is the one I have settled on.

[00:03:04] Nicole: Okay. So what do you think, what is it, what is not catching you about all of this? I mean, we just had a show where we talked about all the books we’re looking forward to.

[00:03:10] Gayle: I know I’ve asked myself this question a lot over the last couple weeks, and I think it actually has nothing to do with the books.

I think it’s a mindset thing. Cause like you said, we’re, there are so many good books out and, you know, some of them are in my house and then there’s books from the last time we made a list of books we wanna read and some of those are in the house. So it’s not the books.

I think it is. Just external forces in life. Like, you know, sometimes you’re going through a lot of change. You’re distracted, maybe you’re depressed, you know, whatever it is that, is kind of changing your mindset so that you’re not open to that type of focus. I think I, I that’s what my guess is, I don’t think it’s the books.

[00:03:50] Nicole: Okay. My, my cat is…

[00:03:53] Gayle: Your cat seems to agree.

Nicole: Yes, he…

Gayle: Amen.

[00:03:56] Nicole: He’s going through a book slump too.

[00:04:00] Gayle: I mean, when you are in a book slump, is it the books that you find or do when you look back on a book slump, are you like, oh, I was like really stressed out or I have a lot of work going on or…

[00:04:08] Nicole: yeah, I think it’s life.  I feel like I’ve been in a low-key book slump since the beginning of the pandemic where if it’s, it has to be something, it has to be one of those books that’s so compelling that I just wanna sit and read it in a day. Like the quieter stories that I usually love are just not getting it at this point, just because, there’s so much that’s been going on in terms of like health within the family, like lots of job stuff, you know, the pandemic stuff has just been weighing and it’s finally, kind of dissipating as we test out what the new normal is without maybe mask requirements and having more vaccines available and all of these things. But it’s just been a particularly busy time, you know, I feel like everyone was working. Especially those, those times that it was more of a lockdown. So if you weren’t working, you were working from home, it maybe in a different environment or not working at all and just like all this stressful stuff. So I definitely think it has affected like what I read and how I can read.

And sometimes in those moments where I. Really focused on books. Like, you know, mostly during a commute time, I’m just kind of like mentally exhausted and don’t wanna read, like would rather listen to music or podcast or something that’s just… more passive. So I get that. And it’s usually not,  it’s not the books because,

Gayle: Because there’s so many books

Nicole: There’s so many books. There’s such a ton of them. And you know, like if you really sit down and, and do some work, you can figure out what you wanna read next. 

[00:05:43] Gayle: Well right. I mean, that’s the thing. I spend my life looking for what I wanna read next. That’s like my hobby, right? It’s like what I do the

[00:05:49] Nicole: purpose of your blog

[00:05:49] Gayle: Right the blog and the podcast and the magazines and the columns and the, you know, the emails and like I’m drowning in books that I wanna read next. Cause that’s, what’s so like puzzling about it.

I think for me too, like both of my girls are leaving. One is already gone and one’s about to leave and you know, I’ve sort of like I, in my mind, It was always like, well, one silver lining of the girls being gone is I’ll have more free time and I can read.

[00:06:16] Nicole: And now you don’t know what

[00:06:18] Gayle: Right, and now they’re gone or about to be gone. And like, I’m, I’m really sad about it. And that time I’m not like relishing it, like, you know, like sometimes it used to be like, if the kids would leave for a weekend or something, I’d be like, oh my God, I can get so much reading done because they knew they were coming back.

Right. I was gonna say, you came back. Right. And now they’re not coming back. They’re, this is like a new stage of life. And I still have my son at home and obviously he takes up a lot of time and that’s wonderful. I’m not, I’m not like, you know, total empty nest here, but like, you know, they took up a lot of mental energy for me.

[00:06:52] Nicole: so you’ve got to mourn. You’ve gotta grieve.

[00:06:53] Gayle: Yeah. That’s I think that’s it. It’s like a morning process and sometimes during morning, like you, your mind is just not a hundred percent engaged. I think that’s what it is. Like I find myself falling asleep earlier. Like I’m just, I think it’s like a more a sadness, like a, a melancholy.

So maybe once, like I sort of get past that I can kick back into gear on the reading. The audio is working. I’ve actually finished two books on audio, which I will talk about later in the show cuz they fit the theme of the show and I wanna save them for that. So audio’s working cuz I fit that in when I’m walking the dog or driving in the car.

I mean that’s when I’m captive and for whatever reason that’s clicking and I’m like, you know, if I’m like making dinner, sometimes I’ll put the audio book on, but that like sitting down quietly and picking up a physical book, that’s what’s, I’m having a hard time and that’s why something like TikTok is so enticing because it’s totally mindless.

And I just sit there and I can just put my brain someplace else and I don’t have to invest.

[00:07:56] Nicole: One thing that’s been working for me, which is interesting because you know, I’m not a Kindle person is that it’s a lot easier for me to read. On my Kindle these days. Hmm. I don’t know if it psychologically feels like less of a commitment to just read, you know, it’s not, and I’m usually such a tactile person.

Like I need to sit and flip the pages and that’s how I can organize in my mind. If there’s a part I wanna go back to, I kind of automatically know, and it’s all about the pages, but lately I’m getting, I’m like getting and reading through a lot on my Kindle and kind of just, yeah. I don’t know why that works for me, but interesting.

I managed to finish a couple of things that way.

[00:08:37] Gayle: Well, that maybe I should look into that, cuz I’m not a Kindle person either. Maybe that would change it. 

[00:08:42] Nicole: I don’t know. But it’s also the actual Kindle. It has a cover that I like. It’s not like reading on the phone or anything. But I do like, it does help to that.

If I don’t have the actual Kindle and I have my phone, I can pick up, I think it, maybe it’s working just because I have access in so many different formats that if the moment strikes me and I wanna read for like five minutes, it’s easier to do that. Hmm.

[00:09:10] Gayle: I did wanna say one thing a follow-up from last show.

And I had talked about a book when we were bright and beautiful on the show and I said, I had 40 minutes left or 40 pages left or something like that. And I definitely gave it a pretty negative review on the show. I wanted to just add a little Coda on that, which is that I did finish it and finish the 40 pages.

There are things that happen in the 40 pages that make the book have a little more sense. I had said that I couldn’t relate to the character at all. Then I thought she was really confused and inconsistent and there were things I didn’t like about the book in the end. I still didn’t love the book, but I think that there are some choices the author makes about the way she tells the story and about the way the character sort of, uh, there’s an explanation for some of her inconsistencies.

I just wanna say it made a little more sense to me now didn’t like it any better, but I understood it better. And I understood kind of the point the author was making. There are some themes of like, and I talked about this, that there are themes of like consent and abuse and, sort of sexual assault of a minor, things like that.

I think that I didn’t have the full picture when I did it. And I get the author’s purpose a little more now. So if you listened to last week’s show and you heard me talk about it and you’d read the book and you’re like, why didn’t she take X into account it’s cuz I hadn’t gotten there yet and now I have. So, lesson to self: ‘do not talk about books on the show till I’m completely finished with them.’

[00:10:50] Nicole: Yes. I guess tell us you’re reading them what they’re about.

[00:10:54] Gayle: yeah. Save the review for what you’re done. So I still didn’t really like it. I’m putting it up for swap. That’s like the new thing for me is I have to really, really like a book to keep it.

[00:11:05] Nicole: Cause you don’t have same space with that. And I think that’s also driving my Kindle. Yeah. Habit too. That there’s stuff that I just know. I’m not gonna wanna keep, a physical copy of and it just makes more sense in that way. Yeah. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of books, things that I’ve been holding onto years for years that I thought I might read.

And I really did call, like I had certain books. I’m just like, oh, I really enjoyed it. And I would keep it. And now it’s like, yeah, you really enjoyed it. But would someone else really enjoy it too? Because you’re never gonna read it again, as opposed to books that give me that feeling is this is amazing.

I really enjoy it. And I want it as some type of reference. If it’s to look at a page every now and then, or just to know it’s there to revisit. So the bar has just gotten a lot higher for what I’m gonna keep. Yeah. I feel the same way. So are you gonna be purging soon?

[00:11:58] Gayle: For me, it’s like a continuous purge.

Like I’m always purging stuff, but I, the piles in my room have gotten out of control. There’s a lot of like review copies in there and just stuff that I’ve acquired through various ways. So I do need to do a big call. I mean, sometimes when I do that too, it sparks a desire to read books. I had forgotten.

I had, so maybe that’s a. You good way to address the book’s lump. So how about you? Is there anything that you’ve been reading that you wanna mention right now? Or should we hop into the memoir section? 

[00:12:26] Nicole: Do you have a blow dry book? I’d want to ask?

[00:12:28] Gayle: No, the blow dry book has actually been, generally whatever I’ve been doing on audio.

Okay. Yeah. So at the moment I don’t, but that’s a good call that I should add in a blow layer in a blow dry book, because I know that at least like in a month it’ll be done.

[00:12:44] Nicole: it’ll be extra.  I read The It Girl by Ruth Ware. I didn’t like it as much as I liked her other books. I believe it was set in Oxford.

It’s about this one woman, you know, she’s like really worked hard to get into this school. She’s from like a really small town, thinks of herself as boring. And she has this very glamorous, wealthy roommate and they become very close. Over the course of a semester. And then her roommate is murdered.

It’s told in flashbacks. So it is, she has moved on. She has married the man that her roommate was dating and, she’s testified and put away this one man who worked on the campus and was just kind of a weirdo. And she had seen him leaving their room or leaving their dorm. The night her roommate was murdered. And so she testifies and this man goes to prison.

He always proclaims his innocence. And when he dies in prison, like the story becomes hot again. And she starts to think back on that time and wonder, um, if she has made a mistake and convicted the wrong man or helped convict the wrong man, just because. You know, he has never said that he has done it.

Like he’s gone to his death, proclaiming his innocence, a journalist is looking into it and she’s just very uncertain. So she starts investigating or just really revisiting things from college while she’s pregnant, inexplicably, she’s running around, chasing down leads. I don’t know. I think she’s like halfway through her pregnancy.

So, I mean, it was interesting. It was definitely a page-turner. I don’t think it’s Ruth. It’s like, not one of my favorite thrillers. I don’t think it’s one of Ruth wear’s best, but you know, it was entertaining. So the other one that I read was Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Crosby. And he has another book that I wanna read called Razorblade Tears.

And I think that was the one that first caught my attention, cuz it’s about two men whose sons I think were in a relationship and they were killed one, one father is black and when father is white and basically it seems like the only thing that they agree on is that they want revenge for their murdered son.

So they team up to get that. And it’s the story, you know, their story, how that happens.

But his other book, Blacktop Wasteland is about a mechanic who used to be a getaway driver. Like he, he has managed to escape the life. He settled down. He has a wife and two sons. He also has a daughter from a previous relationship that he doesn’t see as much as he wants to, but he has built this life for himself.

Money is getting a little tight and then it get, you know, things get even worse and he has to consider. Just taking this one final job, just to kind of like get them all financially situated again. And he feels like he, he will go back to the straight narrow. So, you know, of course things do not go as planned.

And, you know, the book is a lot about his relationship with his father who was also a getaway driver, and it’s basically how he learned, all about cars and different things. And so it takes place. I wanna say it’s in Virginia. So it is just a lot about growing up in a small town, and how difficult it has been for him to leave this life and establish himself. And kind of what happens when you don’t have resources, you know, to fall back on. When you get yourself in a bit of a jam and kind of like growing up in a Southern town, you know, the racism that he’s facing, just all of these factors that are driving him to go. Back and do something that he managed to get himself out of once and just swore he would never do again. And so his, his books are just, they’re really good, really compelling, you know, fast-paced you get into the story, but also they stay really realistic to just like small town values and how you raise your family and who are you?

Is he this getaway driver person or is he a family man? And can he live, can he manage to straddle the line or be both? Or can he really leave it behind? So that was really good. I’m looking forward to reading, Razorblade Tears, which one

[00:17:09] Gayle: came out first

[00:17:11] Nicole: black top wasteland. Oh, okay. Razorblade Tears came out last year and it was say, I think that was one of my final book of the month club picks before I just felt like I was just getting overwhelmed with books and never reading them. 

[00:17:27] Gayle: All right, well, let’s jump into our category this week. One genre that is working for me, perhaps the only genre that is working for me, memoir has been memoirs. I’m not really sure why that is, but it, something about falling into someone else’s life and just going a bit on autopilot and letting them tell me about it has been working for me.

So I have two on this list that I’ve read, and then I have a few others that I haven’t read, but I’d like to read. And I think for me, all of these came out this year or yeah, came out this year. And some of them like recently.

[00:18:04] Nicole: When I was thinking about memoir, I went and I looked it up because I think I’ve read a couple of different categories of what I would say a memoir is.

And so the two definitions that they list, and I think one, we just gravitate towards more than others is the first one is as ‘a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or specialty sources’. And so then the second definition they give is ‘an essay on a learned subject’. So I think most of the time we go towards personal stories based on a personal narrative.

And I think most of the memoirs that I breed seem to be rooted in some kind of trauma. I was thinking about why that is. I mean, there is one book that I’ve read and of course the name escapes me. That was more about just a family, a period of time, this woman’s life growing up, I think it was in Long Island or something.

And even that was kind of framed as like a traumatic event happening. I think it’s the reading of a will and things just not being expected in that will and kind of reviewing her life, but a lot of them, and I guess, the only exceptions are there’s… First of all, there are memoirs that are just either their celebrity or like I said, they’re informed by a traumatic event that makes people reexamine their life.

But then it’s a little bit different when you think of, I guess I think of Nikita Bratman or Danny Shapiro, people who are serial memoir writers. You know, so it’s like “the memoir of the summer in my life that I did this thing”… or “the memoir part life, when I found out this”.

[00:19:48] Gayle: right, right. So it’s not a, “here’s my whole life from aid till now”. It’s this is “a thread of my life that I wanna talk about”.

[00:19:56] Nicole: Right. And I think that that too is kind of the distinction, even though they do mention biography, like personal biography with memoir, which of course we would call autobiography. And that seems to be the distinction I think with most memoirs is: maybe you’re writing at a time when you not have not necessarily lived all of your life. Like, Michelle Obama. Wrote hers, I guess. I don’t know. Is she early fifties, or late forties. That was about her transition and her lessons learned and, you know, going from being the wife of a lawyer to going to be the wife of a politician and eventually how it how her life was shaped by the presidency. And she’s got another memoir, she’s got a memoir that’s coming out this year. And of course, yes, we will think of, she will continue to live. There could be, well, there’s this memoir coming out now, which is kind of like life Lessons for Uncertain Times. And I’m sure that there’s gonna be a second act of her life that she could write a memoir about if she wanted to.

So what’s up next?

[00:20:59] Gayle: Okay. Well, I’ll start with the ones I’ve read, so, okay. I just finished and this is the one that like ever was all over the place I just finished. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. So this is the controversial title and cover book by, uh, the actress, Jennette McCurdy who played Sam on I Carly.

And then again was in a show called Sam & Cat with Ariana Grande. This was all, these were Nickelodeon shows in the like early 2010s. So unless you had teenagers or pre-teens, then you might not know those shows, but if you had kids who watched those shows and I did, I definitely knew who she was.

And she wrote a book about her mother who was like, sort of the epitome of the stage mom. Her mom pushed her into acting, which she wasn’t sure she wanted to do when she was young. Her mother kind of taught her about calorie restriction, which led her to have, you know, lifelong eating disorders.

And her mother played an extremely like influential role in her life growing up. And she died of cancer. This is nothing I’m saying is really a spoiler, from the title. I’m Glad my Mom Died, but it’s really all about her. Looking back. She’s probably now when she wrote it in her late twenties and she’s looking back on her life and her childhood and, you know, finally trying to understand the toxic effect that her mother had on her and the abuse that her mother did, even though at the time she didn’t realize it was abuse.

She didn’t recognize it as abuse. She thought it was just, this is a loving, devoted mother. And she spent so much of her life sort of trying to make her mother happy. This book like got amazing reviews when it came out, it was selling out everywhere. You couldn’t get it on Amazon. Like it was, so I was like, oh, I gotta read this book.

So I’ve read it.

Nicole: You don’t love it.

Gayle: Still I’m trying to figure out how I felt about it. I finished it yesterday. I kind of feel like she is so close to the trauma. That it’s hard for her to have a lot of perspective on it. She relates it with a tremendous amount of detail and you know, she, by the end of the book, recognizes it as what it is, but that recognition.

Is a very, very small piece of the book. It’s just at the very, very, it’s say the last two chapters in there are very short chapters. So we’re talking like the last 5% of the book is when McCurdy kind of realizes and is able to say the words like this was abuse, or she has to have someone else say it to her.

She has to have a therapist say it to her. Like you, what your mother did to you constituted abuse. It takes a very long time for her to get there. And I almost feel like with a little bit more distance, she could have kind of infused the. 85% of the book with more perspective, as opposed to just explaining what happened.

She’s also…, if you know the actress, I mean, she plays sort of a, an unemotional tomboy on TV and that’s because she is an unemotional tomboy. So it’s narrated by her. I did the audio, her delivery is very flat and deadpan. That’s just who she is, but it kind of makes the book feel sort of cold.

So I mean, I guess I’m glad I read it. I was super curious about it and it kept my attention right now, which as we discussed is hard. I’m glad I read it. I don’t think it lived up to the height for me. It’s a really negative book. Like she’s just an unhappy person. And now that she’s left acting, I think she’s much happier. She always wanted to be a writer.

And clearly, this book is the first step towards a writing career. And she hints at the end of the book that she, you know, has now has a literary manager as opposed to an acting manager. And so clearly that’s where her direction is headed now. But it just, I don’t know, it was like, sort of like omnipresence of this book.

I’m not sure it’s a hundred percent justified, but I’m not unhappy that I read it.

[00:24:49] Nicole: That was kind of, I had similar feelings about Tara Westover’s Educated I felt like that book was written too soon. Like, um,

[00:24:57] Gayle: yeah, I think we talked about that, that she just didn’t have a lot of perspective. Yeah,

[00:25:02] Nicole: yes. Or I just felt like there was still unhealed trauma that just informed all of that book.

Yeah. And, and I wonder, you know, they both. It’s not like these, those stories. I think that you could read, educate it now and say she has processed it more and can write, I guess, a more complete book. I think both of these stories from what I’ve heard seem timely enough, that there was not an urgency to say, we need to release this right now.

Like, it couldn’t wait any longer, unless it was just like financial reasons or whatever. With Tara Westover’s Educated, I feel like she had mentors who were just, you know, you have people in your life. Oh, that you have an amazing story. You should write a book. And people who were placed enough to help her do that.

And I guess, you know, if someone’s championing you and saying, you should do this now, maybe you just do. Yeah. But I just felt like her story. There’s nothing about it. That would not have been as fascinating if it came out two years later, if it came out now, It really would’ve benefited from just her being able to decompress more.

Right. All right. So what was the other one that you read? Because these are your two, what you’ve been reading. So

[00:26:20] Gayle: the other one I read is called, This Is Not A Pity Memoir by Abi Morgan. Abi Morgan is a screenwriter in England. She has wrote a lot of shows that you’ve probably heard of mostly British shows, but she…, and has won American Emmys for them. Like she’s, you know, very accomplished.

She writes a book about her husband, her partner, actually. So the beginning of the book that he’s, they’re unmarried, but they’ve been living together and have two kids and they have a, you know, very solid relationship and her husband part slash partner has MS.

And, but the MS is under control. It’s kinda the early stages of MS. And he’s been taking some. Not necessarily experimental, but some kind of newer medicine to treat the MS. And I think it takes place about three years ago, he takes, uh, it, when he stops one of the medicines, it ends up having a very negative effect on him, such that he has, you know, it turns out to be encephalitis.

So his, you know, brain affects his brain, affects his ability to communicate his ability to move he’s in the hospital for a couple weeks, looks like he’s gonna be getting better. And then he ends up in a coma for seven months. So she writes all about that first part. He’s you know how they’re ever, they’re worried that he’s gonna die.

They’re worried he is gonna lose him. Then he’s in the coma. They don’t know if he’s gonna wake up. She’s single parenting. And then he wakes up and he doesn’t recognize her. He recognizes everyone else. He recognizes his kids, his friends, his parents. And he knows that she looks like his partner, Abi Morgan, but he doesn’t believe that it’s her.

He thinks she’s an impostor. 

[00:27:58] Nicole: Oh, it’s that? There’s a name for that.  

[00:28:02] Gayle: Yeah. She probably said what it is. I don’t remember. But so he, she has to convince him that she is in fact, the person in those photos all over their house and that she’s the one he has memories with. And she’s the one who delivered the children that he is so fond of, but it takes him a very long time to get there, to trust her and to actually accept that she is who she says he is.

So she’s dealing with a lot. She’s dealing with like single parenthood. She’s got teenage kids, single parenthood, the loss of her partner, the financial stress of losing. He’s an actor of losing his income, the physical stress. She then she’s got her own diagnosis she has to deal with. And then to ha have him finally wake up.

Then she has to deal with the emotional rejection of him not knowing who she is. And so it is a lot for her to deal with. Now she calls that this is not a pity memoir because at one point. She meets somebody who they’re talking about some book and the person goes, “oh, is that one of those pity memoirs?”

And so she’s very like careful not to kind of go down the road of, please feel sorry for me, cuz this is happening to me. She like, that’s the title of her book. I mean you obviously do feel sorry for her because what a horrible turn of events, but she writes about it with kind of humor and perspective.

And I do think she’s managed, she succeeds in not letting it go down that road of victimhood. I have a terrible life, et cetera. I mean, she talks a lot about like, I need to be happy for the things I have and grateful for what’s what, what little I get back of him, et cetera. But, um, it was really good.

I listened to it on audio. It is not narrated by the author. It’s narrated by. British audio book, performer slash actress. Um, so I can’t compare, like I don’t know anything about, so in my mind that voice is Abby Morgan. I don’t know, you know, what the decision was for her not to read it. Maybe she didn’t have time or maybe she doesn’t think she has a good enough acting voice for it, but I, I really liked it.

It was, you know, it’s hard, it’s tough to read, but you it’s also suspenseful cuz you wanna know what’s gonna happen to him. I mean, I, I haven’t really said anything that wasn’t on the dust jacket, so I’m not giving away spoilers, but you do sort of hold your breath, waiting to see like, is he gonna wake up?

What’s gonna happen? How is their life gonna change, et cetera. So I I’d like it quite a bit.

[00:30:20] Nicole: Okay. So the first one that I have to talk about is Notes on A Silencing by Lacy Carwford. I think I read it a couple of years ago. It is about this woman who went to boarding school in New Hampshire, like a pretty, uh, popular and well-known boarding school.

And she was sexually assaulted her freshman year. And it’s a lot about the cover-up that happened. Things that she didn’t even discover until she started researching it later on what happened to her just, and she talks about the ways that it affected her, like how her family reacted, how she felt she had to react and go on how she did not want it to compromise her goals.

She went on to attend Yale University and she’s a novelist, like she has written, quite a few novels. So that one was really, really impactful. Just an, an eye opening. I mean, she went, she’s like one of the key things that I remember about this book is how, like they had no locks on the doors and basically it was easy to sneak in, easy for people to wander into people’s rooms.

So it just made me think a lot about, you know, the choices that we make that are out of tradition. You know, her family had gone there before, and there’s a lot about boarding schools and, you know, the upkeep of them and just. How people are socialized and the rituals that may even be harmful to your health are kind of accepted.

And it was just such a fascinating story. In this one, she also references another woman who attended that school and she was young and not from a great background, did not have financial means. You know, she was a black woman and she referenced this other story of this woman going to school at that boarding school that I wanna read.

I think it’s called Black Ice, but I have to look. So, and then I had another one that was kind of in that vein, or it was not at boarding school, but it was college and it Chanel Miller’s know my name, you know, Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement was one that went viral. She’s the one with. The guy who was on a swim team at Stanford was assaulting her outside of a party that she attended. And two passers-by helped, you know, like get him off of her, um, and held him until he could actually be arrested in that case is famous just because he got so little jail time in spite of having witnesses having been caught, literally caught in the act. And some of the, some of what came out of that, just in terms of, you know, we don’t wanna ruin his career.

He’s in Stanford. He has a swimming career. Um, we really don’t want that to affect his life too much. And so she of course is on the other side of that. And. Reclaiming her power and deciding her victim impact statement was anonymous. It went viral, and everyone read it. Everyone was horrified by that case.

And so for her to just step forward and reclaim that, and it’s just all about how she went through rebuilding her life, what it was like for her waiting for the trial, just like what she felt about her value and, and turning to artwork to help her heal. And cuz she does a lot of like little comic drawings.

You know, you can see a lot of those if you follow her on Instagram, that was just a really great, just the way she describes everything. Like she has such a gift with words and language. I think they both do. And just reflecting on these experiences where I guess gender is placed against each other and just how we let institutions of power, how they’re affecting women on a very personal level.

[00:34:18] Gayle: I’ve been wanting to read that a long time and maybe this is the time, like, because this is what’s working for me, memoirs. Yeah. Memoirs. I wonder if I was looking to see if they had it on audio on script and they don’t, maybe I’ll look on the, on the Overdrive. 

[00:34:31] Nicole: Yeah. And it’s a, it’s a couple of things. I mean, because not only is it about what her, this experience and her trauma finally letting people know about what has happened to her and just like reclaiming her identity, but it’s also coming of age.

She spends time. I wanna say she goes to the Northeast and is like renting an apartment and, and is taking art classes. And so there’s just a lot to it in, in terms of her process and reclaiming her life and how she was dealing with the court proceeding. So if memoirs are your thing, Gayle mm-hmm yeah, yeah.

[00:35:08] Gayle: This might be… This might be the time to do it. I was curious to see. if she narrated it, read the book. Yeah. You know, so Libby, you know, how do you use Overdrive? Mm-hmm overdrive is now turning into Libby. Well, there’s two separate apps. I think they’re owned by the same company. They’re shutting down, overdrive it and trying to push everyone, push everyone to Libby.

Yeah. And I don’t know Libby as well. And so I wanted to see if she narrates the book, but I don’t know. Here we go. Is looking at Libby. She does. Okay. Yep. Narrator Chanel, right? This is a two-week wait for this one. Maybe I will get myself on the hold list for that. Cuz that could be good.

[00:35:50] Nicole: Speaking of changes. And we can talk about this next week. I meant to send you a note. So you could take a look at it. Goodreads has changed your interface. I want totally, totally with you. yeah. I haven’t had a chance to like dive deeply into what has changed and the rationale and what makes sense. But I think we should talk about it next week.

[00:36:12] Gayle: Yeah. Okay. Let’s talk about it. I’ll, I’ve definitely noticed it and I’ll explore it with more intention so that we can discuss it next week.

Nicole: Okay. So what’s next for you?

Gayle: So they’re all of the ones that I have again, are, um, are, are coming out. So I didn’t know whether we were, we didn’t really talk about whether we were gonna be looking at kind of historical ones that have we’ve read. I’ve been focusing on ones that are coming out now. So the rest of these I haven’t read. 

So the next one I wanna talk about is called All of This. And this is in some ways, a little bit similar to the one that, uh, I just talked about. This is by Rebecca Wolf. This is a, a memoir about a woman who had a very difficult marriage and she was planning to divorce her husband, and he is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only months to live.

So she makes the decision to stay in her marriage until he dies, because that’s what you do. And so she talks about how difficult she, he was before his diagnosis and how difficult he was after his diagnosis and the stress that he causes her, you know, before and after. And then, um, with some distance after his death, she is able to kind of look back on the marriage and, you know, were there good moments where they’re not, and then, you know, just kind of healing and moving on.

So it does sounds super depressing too. but I don’t know. I just kind of grabbed me. I read about this book in book page. And so it’s, uh, I don’t have the exact date that it’s coming out, but it’s in the September issue of book page. That must be like right around now, ‘All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire’.

That sounds really interesting. Doesn’t it. I’m gonna try to get that one. My hands on that one too. Maybe this will be like. Just memoir after memoir, after memoir, for the rest of the year.

[00:38:07] Nicole: Once you get in that and you’ve read, you know, I think that’ll be, I think that’s a great idea.

[00:38:14] Gayle: Yeah. It’s working.

Do you know, has she written other stuff? Her name, name is so familiar. I’m working it up. She’s in author me to see what all she’s written. Maybe not. Maybe that’s it. Oh, I think that’s it.

Nicole: Oh, debut?

Gayle: Well, she’s written for like refinery 29 Huffington post. So it looks like, you know, she’s a reporter, but I don’t think she has written the free she’s a freelance writer.

Yeah. Oh, oh, I know why I know her. Oh, she wrote a blog called “Girl’s Gone Child” back in the two thousand back when I was like the, in the, kind of the parenting blog sphere. That’s why I know who she is. I know exactly who she is. Okay. it’s from her blog.

[00:38:57] Nicole: Yeah. Does, is the story familiar from her blog or is this more recent?

[00:39:01] Gayle: I haven’t read her blog in years. No, no, this was it’s much more recent. He died in 2018 and I probably read her blog back in 2006 or something, but she kind of had, I think she kind of had this, this kind of, uh, persona of like someone who’d been like kind of a wild person, like, you know, like maybe she was like a musician or something and it was about it was sign.

I think her blog was really about that transition to parenthood and sort of like having to become the responsible mature one. And, you know, that’s what the blog was about. This is okay. Now that I know some context, I definitely wanna read this book because I do remember reading her.

[00:39:39] Nicole: Oh, that’s good.


Nicole: Well, you know, you’ll like the writing. 

[00:39:41] Gayle: Yeah. That’s why the name was so familiar to me. 

[00:39:43] Nicole: Okay. Next step for me, in terms of what’s coming out is Token Black Girl by Danielle Prescod. She is, she was an editor and I can’t, I cannot remember which fashion and beauty magazine she was at, but her novel is all about how she grew up in an elite community that was overwhelmingly white, you know, and I think she grew up maybe in the eighties and talking about how basically everything around her was whitewashed in terms of movies, television, magazines, and everything.

And she just kind of took her cues and formed herself around media that may not have been, you know, was not the most healthy for her growing up. And just how these obsessions impacted her life, you know, in order to be. A certain size in order to be, to look a certain way. She talks about like damaging her hair, using chemical treatments so that it was always straight and diet culture, and just anything that she could to kind of fit in and not stand out and just how she was always like the ‘black friend’, the ‘black coworker’ and how that was toxic for her and affected her life and just how she sort of slowly started navigating away from that.

So I’m looking forward to reading that comes out October 1st. 

[00:41:14] Gayle: Yeah. I’ve been seeing that book around on a lot of lists.

[00:41:19] Nicole: And I think she has a pretty good following. And I think one of the things I remember from her Instagram was like right around the time that a lot of conversations we’re having around the pandemic and just still lack of representation.

She started a company that I believe was geared towards helping companies connect with I guess either bloggers of color or people who had businesses like selling their wearers and just making fashion and the beauty industry more diverse and accessible. 

[00:42:00] Gayle: Okay. So my next one, I think I actually have this in the house.

I think I got this from the library, so this could also be a candidate for my next read is called:  Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings by Chryta Bilton. And it is a book about a woman who was conceived to a gay woman. In in the 1980s. So her mother was gay and used a sperm donor.

And it wasn’t an anonymous sperm donor. It was someone she met, who she knew immediately was like, this is the person I want to, you know, whose DNA I want. Um, but there wasn’t a relationship there. And so she, you know, grew up. And then as a young adult, she found that there were some secrets that her parents had been keeping from her and her sister who I believe is a biological sister.

But she also has a ton of siblings because this sperm donor used, gave his sperm to a lot of people. It says bringing us into the folds of a deeply dysfunctional, yet fiercely loving plan. That is anything but normal. This emotional roller coaster of a memoir will make you cry, laugh, and rethink the meaning of family.

So I think that what she does is she kind of goes out now with the, with the aid of the, all the various sort of DNA sites that we all can use. She’s able to find a bunch of her siblings and go out and meet them and kind of create this, you know, some notion of family around them as well.

So I always love stories about like, you know, DNA discovery of family you didn’t know, you have kind of reminds me of inheritance by Danny Shapiro, which I loved. I thought this one looked really good.

[00:43:43] Nicole: Let me see when the, when did this come out, it came out earlier in 2022 in April, it’s called Easy Beauty by Chloe Cooper Jones. And it is about this woman who is born with a condition called sacral genesis.

And basically I think she doesn’t have. There’s a bone that connects your spine, like at the base of your spine, she doesn’t have it. So it’s very painful in terms of just having bone rub against each other. And she talks about growing up in a body that doesn’t look like everyone else’s and just what that experience is like and how she compensated it for it by, you know, being an overachiever academically and how she dealt with, you know, someone who is always dismissed as, and not considered, you know, always considered less than how callous can people can be.

Just in terms of asking her to explain herself and like why she looks the way she does or, you know, she’ll be with friends and they’re just kind of debating whether she should even exist, you know, things like that. So she learned to go into like this neutral room, this place in her mind.

Unexpectedly, she becomes a mother and that changes her life and just sets her on this path of exploration and reclaiming things that she just never allowed herself to have. Just because living in a world where everything is for the able-bodied or not being considered in the same way that people… She talks a lot about beauty in the book or the first couple of chapters, cuz I did start this one.

Um, it’s one of my book club books, but she’s just like on this journey to see all of the things that she may she’s denied herself or shrink into herself and made herself too small and did not think that she could enjoy them.

It starts off where she’s going to Rome by herself, she’s doing a solo trip to Rome to just kind of see the different galleries. But you know, she goes to tennis tournaments and Beyonce concerts. I think she visits Vietnam. So it’s all about her journey in, into different things as she reconsiders herself and just like, you know, claims a life for herself that she didn’t allow herself to have before. 

[00:46:08] Gayle: That sounds good.

[00:46:09] Nicole: Yeah, so far so good. She’s a great writer.

[00:46:13] Gayle: Okay. So my next one came out this week, uh, or last week, it’s called Solito by Javier Zamora. And it is about a, it’s a memoir by the author about when he was nine years old, how he migrated from El Salvador to the US where his two parents were already there. So he had been living in El Salvador.

He leaves behind an aunt and grandparents to reunite with parents he barely knows because they’ve been gone so long and has to endure a harrowing trip from, El Salvador to the US at such a tremendously young age. It sounds like the trip itself was perilous with boat trips and desert tracks and arrests and all these horrible things that awaited him. And how those strangers that he’s on this trip with kind of become an unexpected family as he’s trying to reach his actual family.

Nicole: I saw that. That looks good.

Gayle: Doesn’t it look good? Yeah. Sound looks difficult. Like just painful to read, but looks really good. So that is Solito by Javier Zamora.

Nicole: I think it’s out this one too.

Gayle: Yep. it came out the sixth. 

[00:47:25] Nicole: So my next one came out this year. Also earlier and I didn’t get to it yet. I believe I mentioned it on another show came out in March. It was probably our spring preview show and it is Nazar Afisi Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times. Now she does.

One of my favorite things with memoirs is like when writers write memoirs about how certain books affected their lives or looking at how a selection of books informed them or anything like that. So she also wrote this book that I read not when it first came out, cause it came out in 2003, but. Probably read in my early twenties called Reading Lolita In Tehran.

And it was just all about like her being a professor in Tehran. And I think it was the time like right after the regime had fallen and women were not supposed to be reading anymore. And she was like doing these sneak language classes. And just, it’s just all about how after the fall of Tehran. She, she had been, you know, a college professor, I believe.

So she invites these women to her home to read these books that too she’s writing about books that are subversive. And at the time these are also books that were sub, uh, were subversive, um, mostly Western classics, but just exploring these books against the backdrop of, you know, their situation and women not having the opportunity to be educated anymore.

So in this one, which came out in March, he’s taking a look. Books that help in uncertain times when things are changing and books that were subversive and affected culture over the years. And just her take on it. Having been a professor both, before the fall in Tehran and she, you know, like how everything has changed, how she processes reading now, too, having worked here as a professor and what it is like to live as an immigrant.

And what’s, you know, when we have political strife going on, how can these texts that have been formative subversive or eye-opening in the past? How can they help us now? So I think the works that she’s using are Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, salmon, Rushdi, Tony Morrison. So I just love books like that, where you get a different take on how literature has affected someone and just, you know, just how it gives you different things to consider.

[00:49:58] Gayle: All right. So I know we need to get to our book club. I still have two more. Should I just talk about them really quickly? And then we can move on. Sure. How many more do you have?

[00:50:05] Nicole: I can go through my list really quickly because a lot of these are just like notable memoirs that I’ve read. 

[00:50:12] Gayle: Okay. The two that I wanted to talk about are both coming out or have recently come out.

One is called A Place Called Home by David Ambroz, A-M-B-R-O-Z. And it’s about a boy who grows up homeless and then in foster care and how both experiences are harrowing and difficult and, um, you know, stressful and dangerous and how he manages to make it out and ends up going to college and then going to law school and is now an advocate for child welfare.

According to Jeanette Walls, it is beautifully told gut wrench, gut wrenching story, but written by an author with a great big heart. So, um, I don’t know, thought that one sounded good. And then the other one that I wanna talk about is actually a real departure from the other ones that, um, I’ve mentioned on this show.

Let me just, I’m just trying to pull up the, uh, description. Um, it’s called Firebrand: A Tobacco Lawyer’s Journey by Joshua Knelman and that’s spelled K-N-E-L-M-A-N. And it’s about a guy who works as a lawyer for the tobacco industry. So he starts out as a young lawyer. He ends up, you know, on the account or with the client, or I don’t know if he’s in house for one of the big tobacco companies and it’s a memoir about his years working for these companies and how they, you know, have gotten their hold worldwide.

On sort of new customers, new markets and the sort of insidious pervasiveness of, you know, nicotine addiction and how these companies have taken advantage of it. So definitely different from, some of the other ones that I’ve mentioned today, it’s not about trauma and personal, um, you know, experience.

It’s much more about just coming into maybe coming into like a, a conscious, a conscious, awareness and then wanting to tell a story. “A grand tour of the compelling paradoxes of globalization and corporate culture shrink, wrapped in engrossing narrative of a morally dubious yet completely legal enterprise”

And that also came out on September 6th.

[00:52:37] Nicole: that’s amazing. Yeah, that sounds really good. 

[00:52:39] Gayle: Yeah. So that’s what I’ve got as far as, um, upcoming or recently released memoirs.

[00:52:47] Nicole: Okay. So I’m just gonna quickly tell you about a couple of memoirs that I’ve read. If you have not come across them, they are really good.

One is, and I just wanna call attention to the fact that I mentioned a memoir on our last show. Tell Me I’m An Artist by Chelsea Martin, which is about scratch that, cuz that’s not the memoir. The memoir rs called Runaway. Anyway.

So these are some memoirs that are really excellent. That gave me a lot to think about one was Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker.

It is about, she talks about her journey to sobriety. She talks a lot about how AA is basically was built for white men. Um, and the culture that supports it, like how it is, can be detrimental to women and how she narrates, like how. She learned to quit. And just about how toxic alcohol is, it’s just like, she’s done a lot of research.

So there’s, there’s a lot of information that’s interesting. And you know, her perspective on how, if you decide that you want to not drink anymore, how you can do it in a more supportive way without having something that basically tells you, you know, to just sublimate your entire being and, and, um, and I guess kind of be at the mercy of rules. So really fascinating.

The other one that I would really recommend is by Natasha Tretheway, she was a poet Laureate, I think during Obama’s first term, but her memoir is called Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, and it is all about, um, her stepfather murdered her mother when she was 19. It’s kind of her mother’s story about how she grew up in Mississippi, you know, um, Natasha Tretheway‘s parents, her father is white.

Her mother is black. So it was like how their family, um, reacted to this marriage. What eventually caused the dissolution of the marriage, uh, her relationship with her mother and just like basically how her life changed at 19 when her stepfather, um, commits this, this act that just sends her on a, a, you know, the journey to where she became the poet L and how she relayed on poetry.

It is it’s really, really good. Um, and the last one I would mention is a memoir, but it is, it’s a graphic novel memoir. Um, it’s a good talk by Mira, Jacob, and it is so good. For this, she, I guess the frame of it is just explaining, explaining. How she grew up and, and people’s reactions to her son because she writes this after Trump has been elected president.

And so there’s just like a lot of unrest at this time. And her son is of mixed race and he has a lot of questions about who he is and who other people are. And you know why people are angry about race. And this is just her way of trying to explain it to him. And she felt so deeply about this project that she actually learned to draw so that she was the one who did all of the illustrations in the book.

But it’s really good.

[00:56:08] Gayle: That was so good. And she’s great to follow on Instagram too.

[00:56:13] Nicole: All right. So let us get to our book club, finally long time coming. I didn’t even know when we first announced this book long time ago, long time ago. Yeah. But before we do that, Gayle, do you wanna tell people about. What we’re gonna be rounding out the year with, we had to choose compelling books.

[00:56:34] Gayle: Sure. Okay. So our next two books, if you are interested in joining our book club, the first one is Carol Lovering Can’t Look Away, which is,  came out this year. And then the second one is going to be Gabrielle Zevin Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. So plan accordingly, if you wanna join or you wanna listen to the shows where we talk about those?

I would assume we’ll do the Carol Lovering book maybe sometime mid to late October, and then we will do Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow before the end of the year. So maybe late November,

[00:57:08] Nicole: early December. Yes. And we’ll see how Gayle does with her memoirs. If she reads something really good, maybe we can sneak, oh, you know what I wanted to tell you.

I read the paper palace. Oh about that. Interesting. It’s a long time to read that. 

[00:57:24] Gayle: Let’s let’s you want book called that one too? That discussion for another show? Yeah, because that’s a good one. We’ve both read and I bet a lot of other people have read that as well. And there’s so much to talk about in that book, so, 

[00:57:34] Nicole: oh my gosh.

[00:57:34] Gayle: So much yeah, that ending. Okay, great. That’s exciting. And then I need to refresh my memory on it too. Okay. Perfect. So. All right. So the book that we are talking about today is called mercy street. And I don’t think when we picked this book, we had any sense of how incredibly timely it was gonna be. We did not.

We did not and has turned out to be very timely. So mercy street is by one of my all time favorite authors, Jennifer ha she’s a must-read for me with the exception of one book that I haven’t read yet. I haven’t been able to get through called heat and light. Um, did you start it? Remember? I did start it and I just, oh yeah, it didn’t grab you.

It didn’t grab you, but it’s so good. It’s that’s the one I about fracking. Mm-hmm um, at some point I will come back to it. I’m not, I’m not giving up. I will. 

[00:58:18] Nicole: I it’s a slow, burnt to start that book.

[00:58:19] Gayle:  Yeah. 

[00:58:22] Nicole: Um, there’s a lot once you get into the heart of it. Yeah. I think once you get to know the characters and what their stakes are and what the issues are, you really get into it.

But I remember it took me a while to get into that. Yeah.

[00:58:35] Gayle: Um, okay. But so mercy street, um, and so it’s kind of a little bit similar in that it deals with a topical issue. There’s a lot of characters, it’s a bit of a slow burn. Um, but it is, um, this, in this book she’s taking on abortion and, um, the setting is Boston and specifically a, an abortion clinic in Boston and the main character.

Well, basically the main character is a woman named Claudia who has worked at, um, mercy street. That’s the name of the,  clinic she’s worked at mercy street for years, and it is a, it is a women’s health clinic. And one of the services they provide is, um, abortions to people who need it. And there’s another kind of constellation of characters who sort of orbit around this, either her or they orbit around this clinic.

And you have people on both sides of the abortion issue. You have people who are. Milit anti-abortion who sort of spend their lives, um, devoted to that cause, and trying through whatever means necessary, sometimes even threatening slash violent means to prevent people from getting abortions. And then you have people who are kind of more tangentially connected to those characters who may not even really have as much of an opinion about it, but yet they are somehow, um, caught up in this kind of swirl of like activity and emotion.

I think that’s enough for background. Anything you would wanna add before we kind of get into the discussion? Nope, that’s perfect. Okay. So what did you think of this book?

[01:00:24] Nicole: This book, it was a really interesting book. Like you did say it was a bit of a slow burn. I like the way that I like the way that all the characters came together, you know, as you’re getting to know them and they have different perspectives and it did rely on a bit of coincidence, I guess, just in terms of what is the likelihood that these relationships would be what they are?

And I guess we can discuss spoilers at this point, you know, the, what are the chances that her weed dealer mm-hmm is also going to be like dealing to the opposition and that they would be so closely connected to the clinic. That was, is her name Claudia, that Claudia works at.

[01:01:14] Gayle: right. There are definitely a lot of coincidences here.

[01:01:17] Nicole: Yeah. And I know that kind of drives you crazy a little bit.

[01:01:20] Gayle: Yeah. Yeah, cuz it feels like, uh, not necessarily organic, like it, it, it feels, you know, fake and kind of constructed convenient. So you have, you have her, you have her weed dealer who is dealing to both her and to this other guy who takes photos of people leaving the clinic when they’ve had an abortion, which he then feeds to a guy who runs a website that tries to shame people who have had abortions, except

[01:01:58] Nicole: for he’s oddly attracted to them, to some of them, some of the women,

[01:02:03] Gayle: the guy who took the picture, takes the pictures.

Yeah. No, the guy he feeds them to. Oh yeah. Right. Who has like a really weird session. Yeah. He’s got thing. And she delves into everyone’s back stories too. So you see that like what has propelled them to this particular place in life? um, you know, how did they get there? Like how did they form these views?

The guy who runs the website is extremely misogynistic and bitter and awful, but then you kind of realize that he’s been really wrong to buy somebody he loved. And that’s what sent him where he is. And with Claudia who works at the clinic, you know, she had a really horrible relationship with her mother, right.

She lived in like a trailer and it’s been a while since I read it. So some of the details are gonna be a little fuzzy, but like they all, yeah. So, I mean, they all have like these kind of difficult lives that propelled them to have difficult and complicated feelings about both parenthood and often about women that sort of drive them.

I found this book confusing. I did this on audio, which I would not recommend because there’s a lot of shifting around of perspective. And I also found some of their stories, the backs stories were similar. . And so I was often confused as to who was talking and who they were like, I would get, you know, halfway through a chapter and realize that I thought it was Vincent and it was really Timmy and, um, or I, you know, didn’t know that it was, oh, sorry, Tim’s the pot dealer.

Um, Vincent or Anthony, like the names were all kind of like vaguely like Italian names. I don’t know. I just, I, I had a hard time following this one. And so what I’m left with months later after reading, it is not like a super clear chronology of the book and the characters, but I’m left with more of a sense of the complexity of the anti-abortion side.

Does that make sense? How about you? Like, what did you think of it? 

[01:04:05] Nicole: I don’t know. I mean, she does a good job of, like you said, they can be a little bit indistinct because. Claudia grows up. I mean, she’s working in Boston, she’s had this marriage where she’s tried to marry, or she did marry, but they don’t successfully stay married to this wealthy, this wealthy family with old school values.

And she does not fit that mold. So there it, I agree. There were a lot of people that just seemed very put upon by society and are turning to these really militant ways. And I guess what was taking me out of the story is because I know, like now we have all these conversations about who gets to tell particular stories, I’ll say, and you know, with reading fiction, I do believe that anyone can, can, can tell a story.

I mean, it’s up to you to decide who you wanna hear that story from, but I guess the characters, everyone is just like so poor and they are so. Extreme that it was like hard for it to not feel like an indictment against poverty. And, you know, I guess she’s trying to make the point that, of course the people who are going to be affected when abortion clinics close are people who do not have means people who cannot just pick up and say, well, whatever, I’ll just fly to New York and have this done, but then I didn’t want those characterizations to be stereotypical.

And I just found like, sometimes I’m just thinking, okay, so yes, we have, like now this poor guy who’s been wronged and he’s become unhinged and he hates women or whatever. You know, when I think that there are, I guess I would’ve liked to see, even though this is a very particular story, the narrowness of it just pulled me out of it a lot to just think about these deeper questions about like, this is not the only side of this issue.

And is anyone being stigmatized here,

[01:06:09] Gayle: right? That’s interesting. She wrote this book 20, 22 early this year. So pre dos pre, she wrote this while Roe versus Wade was still was still law. Um, do you think that she just sensed what was coming? Like what, what do you think made her choose this topic? This subject for her book?

[01:06:32] Nicole: I mean, I think we all knew it was coming. I don’t think anyone knew it was coming this quickly, but that was the point of stacking the court with, you know, these justices. And it was like, okay, so there is gonna be some type of re reform that’s gonna make, make it less restrictive. You know, I think that people thought that the court would adhere to precedents and that something was gonna be coming, but no one knew, I don’t think anyone figured that they would just like, you know, okay, we’re just gonna go for it.

Let’s do away with it all together. Right. As much as we can, in terms of it being a federal practice or it being protected in each state, Right.

[01:07:10] Gayle: You’ve read some other Jennifer ha right? Mm-hmm . And how did this fit in with, like, where did this rank with the other ones?

[01:07:19] Nicole: It was not my favorite of hers. I think that it just took it too long to gel, I think we were hearing all of these really similar stories, all of these intricate stories.

Um, I almost think there was like, it lean more towards, it was almost like there was too much detail, you know, like with Claudia taking us through so much that she’s go, you know, at the clinic and it could be this case, or it could be that case. I don’t know. I think she could have paired it back and made, had less issues in it, you know?

Yeah. I think that there was a lot going on with Claudia as a person. And, you know, she is surrounded by her Mo her mother takes in all of these foster children. Like you said, Yale, they don’t have a great relationship. One of her mother’s. last foster, you know, children who her mother ostensibly adopted is now living in this trailer that her mother has left her.

And she kind of feels saddled with this responsibility that, you know, her quote, unquote sister has a child. She had a child young, you know, with Claudia, she feels like she’s kind of dodged a bullet and she doesn’t have any kids. And, and well, I think maybe we got too much from too many people. Yeah.

[01:08:33] Gayle: I think that’s right.

Like, I would’ve preferred more focus on the actual clinic, which is a little the opposite of what you’re saying, but I, I like the backs stories of this, of the patients in the clinic. And how did they end up there? You know, why are they needing an abortion? Because it really varies. Like it’s not, it’s not, there really is no sort of like quintessential or typical patient there.

I would’ve liked to have had more of that and less of the backstory of Timmy and Vincent and Anthony and

[01:09:02] Nicole: I don’t disagree with you there. I think. I said it in a different way. Like, yes, if it’s gonna be that story, then I wanna hear about Claudia. I wanna hear about these women and whatever the dramatic incident is, the dramatic incident.

Right. But I think I was overwhelmed with, you know, there’s the guy who’s running the website and his story and there’s Anthony, who’s taking the pictures and his story. Right. And everyone has these, these traumas and all of the, the women who are seeking help, you know, is trauma. Cuz that it, it was to your point really interesting, like too, when you think about these false clinics that pop up and people think they’re calling a clinic and you know yes, that was very too.

It was just like, oh my gosh.

[01:09:43] Gayle: Yeah. I mean, I’ve gotten kind of fired up since Dobbs over abortion access. It’s like become something I’m really interested in. And um, also learning about the obstacles that people have towards getting one. And you know, this is obviously pre-ops, but like even in Boston, like.

You know, firmly blue state. She talks a lot about how people are tricked into, um, you know, or they’re routed to, uh, what they think is an abortion clinic or they think is mercy street, even, you know, even the fictional one in here that through like search engine optimization and keywords and fake websites and things that are misleading, people think they’re going to an abortion clinic.

And instead they’re sent to a place that is, you know, doesn’t provide abortions and then it’s in fact, you know, devoted towards convincing people not to get them.

[01:10:41] Nicole: And then there’s awful things about women not getting callbacks and right, right. And they justly just force you to wait until it’s too late to get one

[01:10:48] Gayle: anywhere.

Right. And as laws get tighter and tighter and more and more restrictive, and you have, you know, laws now that say you can’t get it after six weeks, like these things are just gonna become more and more prevalent. So that was really eyeopening to me. And, um, energizing to me. So like, that’s kind of my takeaway from this book.

It’s not so much the story or even the characters or the writing to me, it was like a real wake up call. So if that’s was part of her goal, like, um, it, for me, it succeeded in spades, cuz I, I feel like much more like aware now of what actually happens.

[01:11:29] Nicole: Right. So yes. So I think what we’re saying is this is not her best.

This is not the one that I have enjoyed the best. I think that she could have paired back focus like Timmy and me and, um, Gosh, like you said, I forget their names. Vincent Anthony. Yeah. Vincent and Anthony. They could have, I mean, yes, give us some insight into them, but I feel like, okay. Maybe spend a chapter with them as opposed to they were all alternating all the time.

And it was just a lot of information that I think, you know, we, we needed a little bit of that. Yes. We wanna know what’s motivating them, but you know, with the story that she was trying to tell, I’m not sure that they should have had as much story as, as they did, or like, I just wanted it to come together sooner because we were just following all of these separate stories for a long time.

And in the case of the men, they were very similar.

[01:12:33] Gayle: Right? Yeah. They’re almost like a composite. All right. I’m not sure we’ve done a great job of selling this book. I, my guess is no one is listening to this who hasn’t actually read it. Um, right. So, all right, well, we finally discussed it and I’m glad we read it and we’ll move on to the next one.

Can’t look away.

[01:12:51] Nicole: Yes. By Carol Love ring. And, uh, I don’t know if, well, I’ll mention, I’ll try to remember to mention this next, uh, show, because like you said, we probably now have a small audience of people who’ve actually read, um, this Jennifer ha novel, but coral Lovering tell me lies, which was, I think her first book, the series adaptation is on Hulu.

I’ve watched one episode. I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to watch it for the same reasons that I had such a difficult time with tell me lies. Like, I feel like she writes these really great compelling characters, but the relationship was so toxic. And it was just, you know, it was realistic in the fact that, you know, people do not usually exit toxic relationships very quickly.

I feel like it’s, it’s the nature of them is like either you’re at the point where you, yeah, no, I’m not doing this or you’re just, you, you have some reason that you can’t exit it, or it’s just what you need to experience for however long you need to experience it. So she just keeps going back to this guy, you know, and he she’s making these choices.

The main character is making these choices that you just don’t want her to make, like things that she’s wanted to do since she was a little girl that she’s planned to do that she’s like not doing or missing the opportunity to, to do think in the book, it study abroad. And then in the first episode that I saw in Hulu, she wants to go on this big trip and mimic.

Father’s footsteps on a trip that he took to India. And, you know, I have a feeling that she probably will not do that because she wants to hang around after this guy. So just saying this to say that, you know, the series ADEP adaptation is on Hulu. If you really liked it, you can catch it there. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do, you know, do that story again.

Mm-hmm it’s just like, it just hurts too much. Like please leave him.

[01:14:50] Gayle: yeah, like too painful. All right. So that’s our show for today. That’s a long one. My God, this is a record breaker. Oh, is it? Um, well, by the time we edit out all the, the meowing, it might be a little shorter. our all right. Well, uh, until next time happy reading.

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1 thought on “Memoir Book Recommendations & Book Club”

  1. I get the reading slump “blues”—ugh!! Maybe it’s time to read a fast – paced, not too challenging book to get you back in the rhythm. May I suggest “One Step Too Far” by Lisa Gardner? Fast paced thriller that will engage you but not demand too much from you!

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