Elevate Difference

Life Lived in Reverse

Who says a woman can’t do anything she puts her mind to? Lucille M. Griswold’s memoir, Life Lived in Reverse, is written proof that dreams are attainable. This small volume is structured so that each chapter resembles a standalone essay. I found myself thinking of them as life lessons. Griswold’s work is a rich history in positive attitude and determination.

When the author entered her seventies, she decided to complete her formal education which she had abandoned at nineteen, when her single mother could no longer afford the tuition. Ms. Griswold became a student at Vermont College and not in the traditional sense: she took courses online. She majored in creative writing and minored in women's studies, both her passions. While photographing working women in all types of professions, she reflected on her life. This led to finishing her studies at Vermont by writing a memoir.

Much of the early narrative allows me a glimpse of a struggling young married couple. With Pearl Harbor only a mere ten years before, Lucille and her husband set out to form a family. The author reminds us that the country as a whole approached life in a much different way than we do now. Planning seemed a luxury. People were more accustomed to life being thrust at them. There was no healthcare insurance, reliable birth control, or fair treatment for women in the workplace. Yet Lucille never surrenders to the temptation to give up, even after her husband is drafted, just out of dental school, and sent to Vietnam to provide dental work for American soldiers and the Vietnamese.

I love the details of Griswold's childhood life as an Italian American in a small town of New Jersey during the forties. And as an adult, the example she sets as a woman encourages and inspires me to never give up on my dreams. Life Lived in Reverse is the perfect title for a memoir of this woman’s life. Griswold reminds me that my story continues to be written, to thrive, and evolve, and that age should never be a legitimate factor when stepping out of one’s box. It is up to me as a woman to embrace this evolution, seek out the details, and make the most of all the doors that open.

Griswold puts a capital ‘F’ in feminism, even if that was not her intention. This book gives a lesson in empowerment.

Written by: Ann Hite, July 27th 2009