reddirtlattes/ April 23, 2019/ kenya/ 4 comments


I love memoirs.

As I live this crazy life, as I ride the bumps, take the sharp curves, marvel at the beauty, weather the hardships, as I cry and laugh and pause, I wonder and wonder how we all do it, how other people do it, what their triumphs and weaknesses look like.

People’s stories I want to devour.

I am the woman who finds it a great joy to sit at the foot of an elderly person and become the well that they pour their memories into.

Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more I say.

Since January I’ve read 8 memoirs, all written by women. And they have all given me something; They all now live inside of me. Isn’t that the magic of a story, whether fiction or a life, when it embeds itself within you and changes you, shapes you? Makes you look at things differently?

I brought in the new year with What Falls From The Sky.  I love this book, love the space the author imposes upon herself by going a year without internet. In that space she rediscovers her religion. I think of her and that space and try very hard to create some for myself and dream of what will fill mine.

That space is also explored in The Burn Zone, an exploration into how one falls into a cult. Even after pulling herself out, the author’s life is deeply changed with all the meditation the cult leader had her do and encourages the reader to “invite stillness,”  the one thing she took from her horrendous experience that she didn’t want to lose. I have those words written in chalk upon a small blackboard that sits in our living room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for my computer only to see those words and I just sit still instead.

From A Life Of Her Own I’ve meditated on the bigness of it all, this human journey, the chapters that veer and the ones that come back around. This memoir showed me that no matter how perfect or successful a life seems we all have our struggles, our deep terrible losses. Such a good reminder in this day of cropped lives that fit so neatly into little boxes.

Inheritance was a profound read to me as an adoptive parent. What makes us who we are? Who creates us? What defines us? What is nature to us, and where does nurture erase, or blur those lines ?

Sick was a page-turner for me. I am now completely terrified of ticks. I also realize how important it is–especially for women–to demand care when you know you need it.

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a book I desperately didn’t want to end and will probably read again. My goodness how flawed we all are. How deeply we all want to be loved. How random life can be and how “it ain’t over till it’s over.”

I just finished Love You Hard. My God, this book. Another I did not want to end. It’s a tragic and beautiful meditation on love. As the author listens over and over and over again to her husband’s memories as he tries desperately to reassemble his past after a horrific brain trauma, she writes, “The story of his life is now imprinted on my soul.” Just as her story is now imprinted on mine.

And of course I had to read An African Love Story. This memoir sent a deep longing into me to experience Africa in a way I never can. In this expat life we live in bubbles, are dropped in, sealed off,  and as much as we try and make air holes we are still encased, watching from within our own worlds, worlds away from the one we are in.  While it is amazing in its own way, to see the world and live for a moment in time in places I only dreamed of, I would do anything to take a time capsule to spend just one day as Daphne Sheldrick, in the wildest parts of this country, surrounded by elephants. To see and experience Kenya through her eyes.







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  1. What are we without our stories? I just finished Educated- which, living in Northern Utah, rings familiar bells. I wanted to crawl into that book and scream “Get the f*** out of there!” Which reminded me that it’s easy to be a spectator to some one else’s story- to watch from the sidelines. But I should know better- I’m a PICU RN- I’m continuously thrown into other people’s stories (triumphant or tragic). However, I only see, or are part of, a blip of it. That blip may be the most poignant, devastating, or exciting moment of their lives, but one chapter doesn’t make a story.
    Also, I wish I could share their stories. I wish I could describe the gratitude and empathy a father of liver recipient had for his child’s donor family. But it’s his story- I’m just fortunate enough to be part of it. I wish I could share the atrocities of some children’s stories- knowing their voices are gone (or at least to free myself from the burden of it). Stories are what make us. What connect and unite us. Anyway, that’s my way of saying I love them too.

    1. You can tell them, Candice. You could write a book and change identification features, but still tell the stories. I admire you and thank you for the work you do in this world. I can’t even imagine, but it’s people like you who are the angels on earth.

      1. This makes me amusedly smile- after checking out your blog, I was gushing with admiration for you. A kid’s heart stopping? I got that… But imagining frequently moving to isolated islands or 3rd world countries, while that seems unbelievably fantastic and amazing, scares me shitless.

        It would be tricky and quite complicated to write a book (at least if I want to continue working where I do). What we do in my unit is so highly specialized, that the diagnosis or treatment itself could be considered an identifying feature. The rules go beyond what’s legal (one reason why science is losing down here -there is so much we’re not allowed to say). HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I can’t write them anyway- and just keep them close (for now at least)… interesting… interesting…

        Oh and I appreciate what you said but I don’t think angels would drink as much coffee or swear as much as I do. 🙂

  2. Thank you, nothing encourages reading like book reviews of a reader grateful for what the books gave to her.

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