Thoughts: Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Memoirs are a little difficult to review as I can’t really rate them on their characters or the plot. It isn’t as if those are features that could have been changed in the person’s life. What I can talk about though is the writing style and the way the story is told.
This memoir is split up into four parts each one documenting a different portion of Mike’s life. Each of these different parts are written with a distinguishable tone which is quite enjoyable.
Escape: This portion of the memoir tells you the story of Synanon and what it was like for Mikel and his brother to live there. This portion is told through the eyes of a very young, naive child who is still learning about the world. You start to get an idea about the relationships that Mikel has with others and the role that certain people play in his life.
Oregon: This portion of the book changes tones and it is like Mikel has suddenly matured and grown wiser. He is still a child and there is so much left for him to learn but often times he plays the role of an adult. In this portion of the book Mikel gets to know his father and that side of his family which changes his personality and his relationship with others. I really enjoy this portion of the book as we learn more about Mikel and start to see some changes for him. This is the point in which Mikel feels as if he is responsible for taking care of his mother and you see him grow up much quicker than a child should have to.
California: This portion of the book where there is a major shift for all of the characters as Mike goes to live with his dad and his dad’s partner in California. There is a major shift in Mike’s behavior at this point in the book as he becomes a teenager and wants to be accepted by his brother. The tone in this portion shifts as we are now hearing this story from a teen rather than a child.
This is the portion of the book that I felt told most of the story and where the story really picks up. This was the portion of the book that kept me reading and really wanting to know what happened to Mikel and his family. I liked how the tone gradually shifts throughout this section of the book as Mikel grows up physically and also mentally. The end of this section is where I put down the book to have all my feelings.
Hollywood Park: In this part of the book Mikel grows up and away from his past. The tone of the book drastically shifts and sounds like a mature young adult telling his story. He walks you through his time in college as he learns about his past and makes sense of his life. I enjoy how this portion is told and how you feel Mikel’s emotions along with him. I like how he walks you through his thought process as he figures everything out.
Overall: I really enjoy how the majority of this book is told through the perspective of a child. The story reads as if a child is recalling these events as best as he can. I really enjoy that because it is as if the story is happening real time. While the story is being told as a child, I like that as the child grows older so does the narrator. You can feel the shift in age and also in mindset as things occur throughout the book.
Something else that I liked is how the story is told in chronological order and doesn’t jump around. I like the way each chapter is organized around a specific point in time or a specific event. It was also helpful that each section had a different tone and the narrators language shifted. I liked that you could track the time passing as things happened.
You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.