Tag Archives: Memoirs

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island by Lorna Goodison

Book Review
Book Review

Book Review: 4 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (April 23, 2013), Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers, File Size: 635 KB, Print Length: 306 pages (Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061337560), ASIN: B00C0UHKEM

In From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People Goodison tells her mother’s story through tales from the past. Although the book is a memoir, much of it is fiction because it is an imaginative reconstruction of Goodison’s family history using both fact and fiction. Goodison utilizes ghosts—the specters of her ancestors—as a method of linking the past to the present, and tells the story through voices from the past. Almost all memories of Margaret (Goodison’s grandmother) are reimagined, because as Goodison writes, “[e]xcept for the eldest siblings, Barbara and Howard, most of the children had no real memory of Margaret”. Yet “they always felt her presence, for Doris [Goodison’s mother] quoted her every day” (Goodison 254). Ghosts are the history of the past coming forward, reappearing, and providing insight on prior events.

Lorna Goodison is a poet, an author of short stories, and an artist. She has received several awards for her work, and she has been writing poetry since her teens. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica on August 1, 1947, and From Harvey River is the legacy of Goodison’s roots. Much of the writing reflects the impact of her family’s heritage—a legacy that is driven by spirits and ghosts derived from both African and Jamaican beliefs.

The book itself is a return to childhood, and contains the forgotten and unknowable history of the past, of Goodison’s past, of her mother’s past, and of her mother’s people’s past. Ghosts are non-corporeal beings that are manifestations of ethereal or metaphysical conscious energies. The appearance of ghosts in this story is the transcendence of people from the past moving through linear time and space in order to interact with the characters. This communication creates cracks in space and makes room for a connection between the past and the present, and this breach is often transcended through dreams. Goodison informs the reader the book itself was “handed” to her by her mother’s ghost, when the author “began to ‘dream’ her [mother], as Jamaicans say” (Goodison 2).

From Harvey River is a memoir of Goodison’s mother. On the surface this history appears unremarkable, but the combination of fiction, history, and family lore, told from the point of view of spirits in the past, creates an interesting and intriguing tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it touching, and at times it made me laugh, and other times it made me cry. If you enjoy a good read about interesting people in a unique and fascinating setting then I recommend this book as an excellent read.

To Purchase, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island from Amazon, click here or on above picture

My Mother’s Story: The Originals by Marilyn Norry

Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of My Mother’s Story: The Originals: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Mothership Stories Society (May 24, 2012), Paperback: 234 pages, ISBN-10: 0987984403, ISBN-13: 978-0987984401

Mothers are unheralded heroes. My Mother’s Story: The Originals is a compilation of the amazing lives of everyday women, as told through the eyes of their daughters.

Marilyn Norry is an actress and she conceived this idea. It started with her own mother’s story and she expanded out to include her friend’s mother’s stories. First she created a stage production, but since the stories are all amazing she wanted to compile them in book form as the editor. She has recently released a new volume in this series: My Mother’s Story: North Vancouver in both stage production and book form.   She has created a website: http://mymothersstory.org/ It is a place where anyone, man, woman or child can share their mother’s or father’s story. She also formed a non-profit society, Mothership Stories Society, to provide a unique place to share all the wonderful stories about mothers and fathers from around the world.

Everyone has a mother, each with her own story of quiet determination, hardship and love. Each woman has a unique life that she deals with in her own way. This project encourages the breaking of the mother taboo, where people are forbidden to talk about their mothers. Instead the focus is on bringing women’s lives out of the shadows into the open where they can be recognized and valued.

The lives of these mothers range from 1890 to present day and each story is compressed to a few pages with one or two photos. Some stories are moving and brought tears to my eyes, others brought a feeling of hope and all showed the determination and wherewithal that is required to be a mother. Each tale is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the women who helped shape our world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it as a very good read. It is a wonderful tribute to motherhood.

To purchase: “My Mother’s Story: the Originals” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
Book Review

Book Review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 13 hours and 6 minutes (336 pages), ASIN: B007MIWUG0

After Cheryl lost her mother in a viscous fight against cancer, she started spiraling out of control and as she began to hit bottom, she realized it was time to take her life back. She did this by hiking alone 1,100 miles up the Pacific Crest trail. This book is the story or her journey, both on the trail and through the mire her life had become.

Cheryl Strayed, whose birth name was Spangler is an American author, and she has written a couple of books, all in the memoir genre as well as several essays, and she writes an advice column: Dear Sugar for The Rumpus. “Wild” was recommended by Oprah, which helped to push it to number one for nonfiction on the New York Times Best Seller list for seven consecutive weeks.

It is great that Cheryl realized her life was out of control and she made a decision to make a change. But she jumped into this journey, like she did most things in life, without really preparing or knowing what to expect. The journey was difficult and she had plenty of challenges, but for maybe the first time in her life, she did not quit. My favorite character was Cheryl’s mother, because she seemed liked a real nice, down to earth type of person who always tried to do her best despite the circumstances. 

I did not really care for either the style or the pacing of the writing in this book. I felt that Ms. Strayed told us what was happening, but she did not really draw the reader in, she did not show us, although there was a lot of potential for this tale to be really truly spell binding. 

I would not recommend this book, and although I thought it was ok, it was not great. Ms. Strayed is not my favorite author and I probably will not read anything else that she writes. Although, I do think that her writing about the Pacific Crest brought more awareness to this wonderful trail.


To Purchase: “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Hoover’s FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover’s Trusted Lieutenant by Cartha D. Deloach

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc., Listening Length: 16 hours and 3o minutes (440 pages), ASIN: B0000545GP

Deke DeLoach gives a thorough account of his experience working for J. Edgar Hoover. Deke was Hoover’s number three man and he gives his version of life with Hoover. He includes all of the big cases the FBI was involved in during this time and gives his inside view on some of the more controversial aspects of life with Hoover.

Cartha DeLoach, known also as Deke, was the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the third most senior official in charge of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. “Hoover’s FBI: The Inside Story”, is a memoir of Deke’s experiences working under Hoover for nearly 29 years.

Deke starts out telling us about the mandate of the FBI, which sets the ground work for the balance of the story. He also describes in detail, specific aspects about Hoover. I thought it was interesting to learn about Hoover’s style and how he dealt with people. Deke also addresses Hoover’s sexual orientation, cross-dressing, the secret files, and how Hoover managed to stay on as director until the day he died.  The story did not flow in a chronological order, instead it bounced around covering all the main historical events, including the assassination of J.F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, as well as the subsequent chase for the culprits. Some of the other items Deke talks about include:  communist spies, working with President Lyndon Johnson, civil rights violations, McCarthy, COINTELPRO and the gruesome kidnapping of Barbara Mackle. All of the stories were captivating and fascinating.

I felt the story was well told, and it seemed to be well supported as well as believable. I recommend this book as a very good read. It is an interesting view of a controversial man and it sheds light on a misunderstood organization.

Favourite Quote:

The FBI is an investigative not an operational agency. We are not a national police force.

 We do not do crowd control, we are not available for guard duty, we do not make decisions to prosecute nor in most cases to arrest. In fact we make few arrests compared to our volume of investigations. We are investigators.


To Purchase: “Hoover’s FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover’s Trusted Lieutenant” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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Proud Pants by Gregory G. Allen

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: ASD Publishing (July 13, 2011), Format: Kindle Edition, File Size: 225 KB, ASIN: B005CQ5O3K

This is a sad but true story about a young man who made some really bad decisions.  He ended up dying at the age of thirty-four from a brain tumour after squandering his life on drugs.

Gregory G. Allen, which is his pen name, is the author and younger brother of John and he tells his brother’s bitter tale. Originally, Gregory G. Allen concentrated on his music and then branched out into short stories and poetry. He has now published this memoir novelette as well as a novel.

Proud Pants is a reflection of John’s life told in his own voice as described by the author. On the whole, I thought the writing was pretty good, although at times it was a bit choppy. This memoir made me cry, it is a tragedy how one young man threw his life away and then continued his insanity with his children. It all seemed to stem from the rejection he received from his mother at an early age. 

The tale is told in an interesting fashion, moving around from the present to the past and then back again. All young people should read this memoir as it clearly shows that the life you create is based on the decisions you make.


To Purchase: “Proud Pants” from Amazon, click here or on picture above