Lemn Sissay is without doubt one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. If you’re not familiar with him, google him, listen to him talk and you will know exactly what I mean. He’s a naturally poet and storey teller and can captivate an audience with his words and voice.
When Lemn Sissay was just a baby he was given up for temporary adoption by his birth mother and this book is all about his time in the Care system. Through a mix of actual reports and recollections, Lemn pulls together and tells the story of his life. It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get reading this book, because there’s a mixture of them.
It’s a hard story to read, but not in the sense that it’s badly written, but more in the sense that it’s hard to believe that so many people who were meant to be providing an environment of understanding and nurturing, could be so blind. Some of the reports written about Lemn are quite upsetting, painting him to be problematic and uncooperative when in reality he was just hurting but struggled to vocalise it, be heard, taken seriously or understood.
I really don’t want to give away too much, but this is an important book to read. If you wish to have a better understanding of Lemn’s journey, and the journey of many other children in the care system, then this is an insightful read. But more than that, it’s a testament to strength of character, spirit and the magic of what can happen when someone is finally given a voice.
Definitely worth a read.
Star Rating out of 5: 5
I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there who have read this and hear your thoughts, please comment below.
I’ve had this book sat on my shelf for a year or so now. As a bookworm it’s a recurring theme where I buy books I really want to read but they sit on a shelf for longer than they should whilst life gets in the way or I read something else that I’ve been wanting to read just as long.
I picked this off my shelf on a cold and rainy day. I felt a pull to it for some reason. It documents Patti’s childhood and upbringing and her eventual move to New York. And it’s here that she meets the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Both in their early 20’s they embrace their passion for art, photography and poetry together, finding love and inspiration in each other. There are so many names mentioned in this book that some ignorant people may feel Patti is simply name dropping, but with Patti I just got the feeling that she is simply re-counting in a very candid way some of the influential people she met during those years. People who made an impact and shaped her voice such as Janis Joplin and a small moment with Jimi Hendrix.
As both Patti and Robert grow older, they both maintain a mutual respect and love for one another. They both support, encourage and guide. This book is more about passion and determination and sheer grit it takes to become an artist than it is about their love affair and friendship. There are some very tender and human moments, Patti writes so very beautifully, it’s easy to see why she became the icon and muse she is today to many artists, poets and musicians the world over.
I loved this book so much, I went out and purchased M Train. Give it a read if you’re looking to feel inspired and want to get lost in a time period with some of the greats!
Star Rating out of 5: 4
Book Number Seven – Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro.
There are plenty of memoirs out there I could have picked in order to tick this one off the old Reading Challenge, but as something of a podcast nut (I listen to an awful lot) this one piqued my interest when I heard the woman herself perform an extract from it on the brilliant podcast ‘This American Life’
Slow Motion is about an event that struck Dani’s life and in doing so made her re-evaluate herself and the decisions she had been making. A beautiful young woman who became the mistress to her best friends, much older, stepfather, quit college to become an ‘actress’ and slowly became dependent on cocaine and scotch.
The thing that instantly struck me about this memoir was the style of writing, although being incredibly open and honest it was written in such a way that you could really relate to the sense of confusion Dani must have been feeling at that point in her life. Dani’s descriptions about times that are so incredibly bleak are beautifully written, despite the sometimes awkward and upsetting subject matter.
As the book progressed and Dani started to talk about how she slowly turned her life around, I began to feel somewhat disappointed. I felt that she had invested so much raw emotion into the book telling us about her life, the events that transpired, yet I don’t feel I was given enough information about the journey after she made the choice to stop drinking, doing drugs and making the decision to go back to college. The timescale seemed to jump around quite a bit, which affected the overall fluidity of the piece and made a somewhat hollow ending to an otherwise well written novel.
‘She’s wearing a pink flannel robe, and I want to be her. I want to have a life where robes and cats and mugs of tea are within the realm of possibility.’
Star Rating out of 5: 3
Happy reading fellow bookworms.