DiscoverBiographies & Memoirs

ALL SIDES NOW A Memoir In Essays

By

Not for me 😔

A mildly interesting collection of personal essays on a wide variety of topics falls short.

Remember that iconic Joni Mitchell folk tune from yesteryear, Both Sides Now? Famously sung by Judy Collins, the song’s “bittersweet lyrics” portray “the duality of human experience.” Along the same lines, All Sides Now seeks to describe a life “steeped in duality and balance” via a mildly interesting collection of personal essays on a wide variety of topics.

 

In tandem with the objective of describing said “duality and balance,” the author launches a deep dive into many different topics. She includes chapters on her childhood with a “wonderful” father and a schizophrenic mother and the effects of same. After her mother is committed to a mental institution and her father dies suddenly, the author writes about how she, along with her brother and twin sister, are taken in by her maternal uncle and aunt. They are raised in Michigan, a long way from the childhood home of Memphis. The text also chronicles the author’s journey into high school, college, adulthood and marriage as it charts “the concept of balance” in all of the above. The book goes on to detail “symmetries” in life, “much as you might find in a double picture frame.”

 

Curiously, it sometimes seems as if two different people voice this memoir. Perhaps this is deliberate, in keeping with the “duality” theme. But the first part comes across as academic, almost clinical. The narrative thaws later on and picks up some warmth and freshness.  Whether or not readers will stick around for the latter is open to question.

 

Some readers may find the writing style engaging and interesting. Others may find it as dry as burnt toast. Chapters are loosely arranged by topic, not time frame. So the chronology isn’t linear. It scampers in and out of decades like a Novak Djokovic ground stroke at Wimbledon. Some readers may find this problematic. Additionally, the pot shots taken at the other side of the political aisle are as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise. But not as relevant. Or as "all sides." (“I Dream of Donald,” a chapter in which the author relates a dream about meeting the former president in the White House, is bizarre.)

 

A stand-out chapter describes how literature and a love for same is seeded in bedtime stories with dad and blossoms in libraries.


This book would benefit from a professional edit and another proofread. Certain paragraphs are duplicated on the same page. See page 25 (“I still felt very close to God” paragraph appears twice) and page 62 (“The predicted blizzard was threatening to start…”).

 

Even so, flashes of brilliance and beautiful, lyrical prose may make up for other deficiencies. For example, the last chapter, The Greatest of These is Love, “tucks in the tail” neatly and expertly, bringing the narrative full-circle with an upbeat and satisfying conclusion.

 

Some readers will find All Sides Now engaging and thought-provoking. It may ring hollow and leaden for others. 

Reviewed by

Northwester. Historical, Christian & Literary Fiction. Action & Adventure. Degree in Communication. Marketing & public relations professional. A frank but fair reviewer, Kristine averages 300 books a year thru a wide variety of genres. Also serves on the Board of her local library.

BOTH SIDES NOW

About the author

Former teacher and computer professional. Finally, author. view profile

Published on December 31, 2021

Published by Introspection Publishing LLC

30000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by