Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged memoir

Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me

Imagine growing up with these parents: Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and Cyrinda Foxe, a popular actress and model from the 1970s.

Why Is My Mother Getting A Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask

Jancee Dunn’s second memoir, Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask, is a laugh-out-loud funny and often touching set of anecdotes about her life; her big, quirky family; her many quirky friends; and her quirky self.

The Adventures of Cancer Bitch

Laying it out there with stunning realness, incorporating funny yet saddening as well as humorous but serious moments, S. L. Wisenberg presents blog entries of her journey through breast cancer discovery, surgery, and recovery in The Adventures of Cancer Bitch.

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.

A Narrative Compass: Stories That Guide Women’s Lives

When I read the back cover of A Narrative Compass, I thought it might be something nice to read before going to bed at night, and luckily, I was right. The texts this collection contains are great bedtime stories: attention grabbing, short, and self-contained. Reading it is a little bit like having all of your closest friends over for a gathering to talk about the stories you treasure from your youth, and how they have influenced you.

Old World Daughter, New World Mother

Taking us from her childhood to the present, Maria Laurino explores what it’s like to be an Italian American woman through the lens of identity, feminism, ethnicity, motherhood, pregnancy, and economics in Old World Daughter, New World Mother_. Laurino unveils the restrictions she faced as a feminist daughter, as well as all that a traditionally Italian upbringing entails.

Arm the Spirit: A Woman’s Journey Underground and Back

Upon finishing the initial chapters of the memoir Arm the Spirit, I was caught off guard by how different the experiences of Diana Block were from my own. Written from her memories of participating in revolutionary movements and subsequently shifting to life underground, Block’s stories did not reflect the political landscape that I am familiar with today.

Spell Albuquerque: Memoir of a “Difficult” Student

I found Tennessee Reed’s memoir of her educational and professional life to be inspiring and informative.

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing

Kyria Abrahams’ searing, if flawed, memoir about growing up in a deeply-observant family of Jehovah’s Witnesses calls to mind Karl Marx’s quip that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Her original voice is by turns funny, whiny, clear-eyed, and churlish as she chronicles the Witness’ blind obedience to religious dogma. Abrahams’ writing is deft, even evocative, as she vividly describes the purple haze in which her community languishes.

How To Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize

There are certain experiences in one’s life that are defining in their impact. Although the actual duration may be short, these experiences help excavate the person you were meant to be and set you on the path to leading the life that you’re meant to live.  In 1962, when Joan Fry set off with her young anthropologist husband to a year-long “working honeymoon” in British Honduras (now Belize), she had no idea how this adventure would impact her life.


Upon receiving my copy of Vanishing, Candida Lawrence’s writing was relatively new to me. The fourth offering in a series of standalone memoirs, Lawrence’s stories cover various stages in her life, from childhood father-daughter power struggles to marriage and child-rearing to aging. Her writing covers a vast array of life experiences and the resulting emotions.  Lawrence vividly describes experiences that have happened to many other women.

Confessions of a Mullah Warrior

“History is full of great men,” Masood Farivar declares as a young man, about a third of the way into his memoir, Confessions of a Mullah Warrior. Luckily, Uncle Jaan Agha rhetorically slaps him on the back of the head, half a page later. The topic is dropped then, and for the remainder of the narrative.

Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family & Their Feminist Daughter

Normally the books I get pitches for are new and about to come out. Today I present you with a book that is now ten years old, but is better than most memoirs at your local big box bookstore. Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You is actually more of a family memoir than a personal memoir. Most notably, Sonia is one the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman

Nostalgia is front and center in Wadad Makdisi Cortas’ atmospheric memoir of life in Beirut, a war-torn city once belonging to Syria and later, the capital of Lebanon. Born in 1909, Cortas died in 1979, but her impassioned account of a four-decade career as principal of the Ahliah School for Girls touches on themes that remained pertinent throughout the twentieth century—colonialism and the founding of Israel, among them. Cortas was fiercely committed to the education of girls and sought international examples to prod her students into imagining an array of possibilities for their lives.

Walking the Precipice: Witness to the Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan

A deluge of books on Islamic fundamentalism had swamped the world's bookshelves following the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Some 100 books and 5,600 articles were written on the subject, many focussing on the lives of Afghan women under Taliban rule.

Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home

Kim Sunée’s Trail of Crumbs is lovely coming of age story about a young woman searching for her identity, love, and place in the world—her home. Sunée writes a beautiful memoir about her passionate love affair, all the while embodying the tastes and sumptuous delicacies of her travels without embellishing her story.

Searching for Tamsen Donner

Westward expansion meets the women’s movement in Gabrielle Burton’s Searching for Tamsen Donner, a memoir about a mother’s journey West in the path of the doomed Donner Party pioneers of 1846-7. Most people associate the Donner Party legacy with cannibalism.

Great Expectations: A Father's Diary

Memoirs about preparing for the birth of a first child are easily located on library shelves. What aren’t so common, however, are those books addressing the particular experience of preparing for a second child.

Black Male Outsider: Teaching as a Pro-Feminist Man

In this compelling, readable volume that is part memoir, part classroom case study Dr. Gary L. Lemons employs the theme of moving from silence to voice, and what this means for anti-racist, feminist pedagogy.

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl

As a feminist who was raised within the Christian fundamentalist paradigm, I was immediately drawn to this memoir. Though Susan Campbell and I come from different flavors of fundamentalism, all of the experiences she writes about ring true.

Things I’ve Been Silent About

Things I’ve Been Silent About is the second memoir for bestselling author Azar Nafisi. Offering a larger lens into her life than Reading Lolita in Tehran, Nafisi tells her life’s story and the story of her country of Iran.

Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World

When the news first hit that Lynne Spears, mother of Britney & Jamie Lynn Spears, was planning on writing a book, everyone seemed to have an opinion. Rumor had it that she was writing a book of parenting advice. Everyone scoffed. Parenting advice from a woman with a pregnant 16-year-old and a pop star whose fall from grace was playing out in the tabloids day by day? Yeah, right. Given the media storm going on around her daughters at that time of the books planned publishing date (remember Britney's hospitalizations? The vagina-flashing?

Must Read After My Death

Familial dysfunction is rarely poetic, but archival footage can be visually stunning, especially paired with painfully honest audio recordings of diaries, intimate correspondence, and therapy sessions. After his grandmother Allis’ death in 2001, filmmaker Morgan Dews stumbled upon more than 200 home movies and fifty hours of tape-recorded diaries and Dictaphone correspondence which revealed a complicated story previously unknown to Dews.

A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor

I can’t remember the last time I cried after reading a book. After reading the last page of A Journal for Jordan I suddenly found myself bawling my eyes out. But enough about me—this is a book review after all. Based on the title of this book, I expected it to be a journal written by a loved one for a loved one.

Challenges: A Memoir of My Life in Opera

In Challenges: A Memoir of My Life in Opera, Sarah Caldwell, the first woman to conduct the Metropolitan Opera, relates intimate stories about her experiences as a director and conductor of this dramatic art form.

A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World

Memoir can be a tricky genre, with nothing holding its premise together other than the author’s truth. In Marcia Tucker’s case, being an artist and curator also makes her one hell of a writer, a woman with a keen ability to spot details and covey her passion to a larger audience. A Short Life of Trouble is a breezy, enjoyable read as it traces Tucker’s fortuitous rise through the New York art scene, parallel with the surge of second wave feminism in the 1960s.

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey through Madness

We rarely have the opportunity to hear from people diagnosed with schizophrenia. As a result, the disease remains misunderstood and maligned, confused with multiple personality disorder, and the butt of several jokes. In writing The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks has, in part, set out to remedy this, and she has acquitted herself most admirably. Saks’s life is an interesting one.

The Late Bloomer's Revolution

Cute chick + NYC + media job + boyfriend troubles + comedically quirky friends and family + insipid metaphors + lightbulb moment resolution = book deal! Next, it will surely be opening at a multiplex near you. This read was so formulaic I had to remind myself that The Late Bloomer's Revolution is actually a memoir, not fictitious chick lit.

To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed

Two a.m. When you are young, this is the time that bars close, new love springs unbidden in doorways, and entire dramas are played out in the time it takes a traffic light to change. When you are older, with marriage and children under your belt, it is the hour at which a ringing phone wakes you in terror, not annoyance; when a voice in the darkness signals illness, not invitation; when awakening in a strangely empty bed, one will know that something has gone awfully wrong with the person whose warmth still lingers in the covers.

Bright Shiny Morning

I have no beef with James Frey. I think he’s a talented writer; a zeitgeist of a generation; a younger and less punctuationally-correct Don DeLillo, of a sort; and I believe Oprah is a mean and deceitful ratings leech. I think memoir is a complicated genre at best, and I tend to believe most (if not all) of the story as told in this recent Vanity Fair article.