Readers’ Corner, Dec. 2022: Life Stories

By Bonnie McCune & Kathleen Duhamel ~

Jeannette Walls’ remarkable journey from the impoverished daughter of deeply dysfunctional parents to successful journalist and author is chronicled in The Glass Castle, her best-selling memoir. Her charismatic father was an alcoholic and her selfish mother, an artist and “free spirit,” ignored Walls’ and her three siblings’ most basic needs. Lacking any parental support, the children were forced to rely on each other to ultimately move on. This story is not an easy read, but it serves to remind us of the resilience of the human spirit.

A similar theme is explored in Dog Flowers: A Memoir, an Archive. Danielle Gellar’s heart-wrenching story explores growing up in an unstable family plagued by alcoholism. Raised by their paternal grandmother, Gellar and her sister struggle to maintain contact with both parents, torn between helping and enabling their addictions. After her mother’s death, she travels to the Navajo reservation to explore her Native American roots and gain a new perspective. Vintage family photos and letters add another layer of realism.

I was in junior high when I stumbled on Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody. I fell in love with his autobiography as his family travels to Colorado in 1906, nearly the wild frontier. From age eight to eleven, his life consisted of hard work, auctions and roundups, community picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and wind storms. Eventually, when his dad dies, Ralph must substitute as head of the family. This book and its successors show the difference between family life now and a century ago, when no government hand-outs existed, and your nearest and dearest faced survival together or not at all.

Author Kathleen Duhamel writes humorous contemporary romance featuring “seasoned” characters. Her newest is Fed Up. Author Bonne McCune’s latest is Never Retreat, a suspenseful romance in Colorado’s wilderness.

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