Category Archives: Memoir

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Donald Miller learned a lot about making your story the story you want it to be while working on adapting his memoir into a movie and decided to share those lessons in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In the process of intentionally choosing his own story, he lived a full life. In addition to his own experiences, there are lots of anecdotes from others who intentionally created their own story with their lives. It’s a quick read and a good reminder to really live your life rather than letting life pass you by. I recommend it to all adults.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 37
Pages Read in 2022: 13,181
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Book Club, Self-Help/Motivation

Spilled Milk by KL Randis

Spilled Milk by KL Randis

Spilled Milk is a fictionalized memoir. The events that happened to the main character happened to the author. She blurred some of the line between fiction and nonfiction when it comes to some of the other people, particularly her siblings, due to being at different points in their healing from their father’s abuse. Writing this way also puts a little more space between the author and all the heavy things she went through. Sometimes it seems like she was just telling random stories but each one is included for a purpose to really give a good view of what was going on in her home and life. It reads super fast. I finished it in two days; I had trouble putting it down. It really shows how the same situation can affect people very differently. It also explains very well why some kids don’t tell anyone, or try to but aren’t understood, when they are in a very hard place. I could see elements of friends’ stories in hers so it rang very true. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has anything to do with children was have been abused, or were abused themselves, with a huge trigger warning for sexual and physical abuse.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 3
Pages Read in 2022: 739

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Filed under Memoir, Realistic Fiction, Reason: We Be Book'N, True Crime

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

Sara came to America from Iran when she was 2 years old on a visitor’s visa. Her parents applied for political asylum, but discovered a couple years later their application had been lost. They applied for an adjustment of status, but remained undocumented for many years. She didn’t learn of her status until she was nearly 13 and spent almost a decade worried she would be deported back to Iran at any moment.

This memoir is super funny. I found myself laughing out loud or finding someone to read a few lines to several times while reading. Some examples:
*Iran has dealt with its fair share of strife and political unrest. And while I’m not one to point fingers or lay blame… the United States and Britain were totally at fault.
*My sister and I tried to find common ground with our half-American cousins, but that took a while to pan out. It didn’t help that we’d infiltrated their space AND that my sister’s favorite pastime was sending me off to bite them. I guess the rumors are true. Illegal immigrants are violent and dangerous.
*I was also the student body president of our elementary school. Yeah, I was an undocumented immigrant who’d been elected to public office. How you like me now, ICE?
*My dad even tried to impress him by telling him that my parents had seen Ozzy Osbourne in concert.
“Really?” Slash asked.
“Yeah,” my dad answered. “He was onstage with all his brothers and sisters.”
“Those were the OSMONDS!” my mom corrected.

Each chapter had a different focus, about growing up straddling two cultures or about various family members or about her family’s journey to citizenship (and the little brother who never had to worry about that because he was born in the US). Her political leanings are clear so this is probably not the right book for someone who strongly supports Trump or is opposed to alternative paths to citizenship. I recommend it to adults who are interested in immigration stories and want to laugh at a life the author probably thinks is kind of boring, but definitely isn’t.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 86
Pages Read in 2021: 27,800

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: Vine Review, Reason: We Be Book'N

American Shaolin by Matthew Polly

American Shaolin by Matthew Polly

The author of American Shaolin spent two years learning Kung Fu and kickboxing at the Shaolin Temple in China. In this book he chronicles his experiences from the culture shock to the pain of training to his experiences with the opposite sex. I enjoyed it for the most part, but he could get a bit repetitive on occasion. If you have experience with martial arts, you’ll enjoy this book.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 62
Pages Read in 2021: 19,249

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Full Circle by Andrea Barber

Full Circle by Andrea Barber

When Andrea Barber was a tween and teen she played Kimmy Gibbler on Full House. Then she dropped out of the acting world for a couple decades, got married, got divorced, and learned she had anxiety and depression. And then she played Kimmy Gibbler once again on Fuller House and so her life came Full Circle. Her memoir is very open and honest. There’s nothing salacious because, one, that just isn’t her style, and, two, she truly enjoyed her time acting and the people she was acting with. Even when she talks about her divorce she’s very honest about her own issues contributing and that they eventually got to the point where they are friendly with each other. Where she’s the most open and vulnerable is talking about her mental illness and learning about how to take care of herself through the highs and lows. The whole time I was reading I felt like I was just sitting with a friend having a chat. It was quite an enjoyable, easy read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Full House as a kid and Fuller House as an adult or who has ever felt like a Kimmy Gibbler because there really is a lot of Andrea in Kimmy.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 57
Pages Read in 2021: 17,760

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

The author of The Girl with Seven Names grew up in North Korea and defected just before she turned 18. She believed all the propaganda about the state of the rest of the world and how wonderful North Korea was. As is typical of defectors, it was a hard adjustment for her to realize the truth and then embrace the outside world. She was very na├»ve and ended up in some precarious situations, some of her own making, some because she didn’t realize what was happening. The writing style is extremely engaging and honest and I found myself wanting to read just a little more to find out what happened to her and her family. I was a little disappointed there was no more to read when I got to the end. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in North Korea. It’s one of the best defector stories I have ever read.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 55
Pages Read in 2021: 17,139

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Whisper My Secret by JB Rowley

Whisper My Secret by JB Rowley

Whisper My Secret is a memoir based on a few years in the life of the author’s mother. It reads like a novel and covers when her mother got pregnant as a teenager, married, had three kids, and lost them after being deemed “unfit.” It’s really well written and every time I sat down to read I looked forward to finding out what happened next. The author indicates at the end that there’s a fair bit of imagination added since her mother always kept that part of her life a secret and the whole thing started because the author wanted to find out about those three half-siblings she never knew about. The majority is based on records and people’s memories of how things happened. It really shows what a vindictive and controlling mother-in-law can do to someone. I recommend it to all adults.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 39
Pages Read in 2021: 11,332

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

Simone Biles is amazing. Her gymnastics experience has been nothing short of incredible. She was born with a large amount of talent and, starting at age 6, was able to hone that talent leading to multiple national and world championship titles and four golds and a bronze at the 2016 Olympics. Written shortly after her impressive performance in Rio, Courage to Soar is Simone’s story, or at least her first two decades. She’s honest about her “bratty period” and times she didn’t want to work so hard and times she was a little afraid of her own success. Her faith and her bubbly personality are apparent on every page. I highly recommend it to anyone who has been impressed watching Simone Biles perform.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 36
Pages Read in 2021: 10,376

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Amy Chua’s parenting style borders on abusive (if her depictions are accurate she was certainly emotionally abusive toward her daughters). I disagree with so much of what she said and did. However, she tells about raising her girls with such an excellent combination of wit, sarcastic humor, and self-deprecation that I couldn’t help but enjoy Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I appreciated how she came to realize that in spite of her over the top internal need to push her girls, when it didn’t work for one of them, she backed off no matter how much it pained her. This isn’t a must-read book by any means, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 29
Pages Read in 2021: 8027

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle

Miss Norma was 90-years-old, newly diagnosed with cancer, and did not want to deal with doctors anymore. Her son and daughter-in-law had been nomads in their RV for a few years. And so an idea was born. Take Miss Norma on the road with them for the rest of her life however long or short that might be. Driving Miss Norma chronicles some of their adventures during that year and a bit. They shared life, love, and learned how to knock down walls and just be. The chapters alternate between Tim and Ramie. The book is interesting and uplifting and inspiring. Totally worth taking the time to read.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 25
Pages Read in 2021: 6776

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo