A memoir can be such a special kind of read- with the right kind of storytelling voice, it can flow just like a novel, but with that insider’s perspective on the events being described. Carlene Bauer definitely has that voice, and her new memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, fits into this category. With a mastery of language that includes unique turns-of-phrase and beautifully constructed sentences, there’s no doubt that she is a talented writer, and her memoir makes for a thought-provoking reading experience.
Bauer describes a lifelong quest for a religious belief system she can fully embrace, as well as filling in the context of her schooling experiences over the years, from private religious settings to public schools. After college, she makes the move to New York City where she longs to live a life that seems just out-of-reach to her, and what she desires also scares her. Not quite sure of what she seeks in a relationship, she describes a long string of attempts and false starts- a string so very long that the names and descriptions soon blend into each other. As an adult, she finds herself still seeking an understanding of the relationship she’d like to have with God, which eventually sends her down the road of religious conversion.
Bauer’s religious seekings interested me, in that I appreciated her constant questioning and thinking about what was preached and taught in the churches from her childhood in comparison to what she feels in her gut. I have to admit that somewhere in the middle of her memoir, I found it difficult to tolerate her inability to sustain a healthy romantic relationship with seemingly anyone, but something tells me that a reaction like that wouldn’t surprise her. Above all, Bauer seems to have an incredibly keen ability to self-reflect, and she doesn’t pretty-up her experiences for the sake of the page. As she searches for her own definitions of a ‘good’ life, a loving relationship, and a spiritual balance, Not That Kind of Girl is filled with doubt, questions, and constant reevaluation, which seems more realistic than anything.
Dawn loves to read about real life experiences, so memoirs often find their way to her bookshelves. Her own stories are told on her blog, my thoughts exactly.
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
I think that another sign of a good memoir is to speak so honestly that people become irritated with your choices — just as happened here!!
But yes, it is hard to “watch” sometimes.