Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book review: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

This book is titled a memoir and I presume one can write a memoir at any age, especially if the author feels that he or she has an important story to tell. While I can sympathize with the experiences of Ms. Gilbert, I had a hard time getting interested or even excited about this book. To me the book was too disjointed to really create a memoir and the overall message became too often muddled along the way to remain clear and concise. 

The story of this book is surviving traumatic experiences and realizing that you are a strong individual that can survive these experiences and come out stronger. As such, the book sounds like a book that many women who go through troubling relationships should and could relate to. What is then weakening the overall message are what I would call bimbo scenes, in which the nightlife or looks of a woman part of a high living society become all consuming. I do not expect a survivor of a traumatic experience to become a spokesperson for oppressed women and life that life 24x7, but showing a women who is pre-occupied with what dress to wear does little to bring across a message of survival and strength. Many women who go through traumatic experiences do not have access to the financial means of the author and her problems about clothing and shoes for cocktail parties differ significantly from how the remaining 99% live. I do not envy the author her money and financial means, but if I was going to write about surviving trauma, I would focus on that and not show that my life is blessed in so many ways that many of my readers (the remaining 99%) cannot really relate to. 

I certainly congratulate Ms. Gilbert for having found the strength to lead a normal life, seemingly untainted by her past experiences. Many women are not fortunate enough to be that affluent and struggle everyday not just with past experiences, but with economic realities that exacerbate the trauma of past bad relationships or experiences. For these women, seeing how Ms. Gilbert managed to survive and be surrounded by luxury can send a message that survival is tied to having enough money. And that is not the case. I wish Ms. Gilbert would have found a different way to show her ability to lead a normal life than worry about little things that point out her economic accomplishments.

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