This is the second book in the author’s ‘Bitter Memories’ memoir series. It distinctly shows how some people appear destined (doomed some may say) to lead uncompromisingly difficult, cruel, bitter lives. It seems unfair, and in fact is, but, as the writer may attest from personal experience, it is not as unique experience as some may think. Why? Well that is completely another question that would be inappropriate to discuss within this book review.
The book principally comprises two parts, though there is a bonus story at the end. To facilitate reader’s understanding, each part will be remarked upon separately. Regrettably, there is no index/contents list in the book that a reader may utilise to reach the relevant book section.
Part One – Bitter Tasting Memories
This is well written, depicting personalities and circumstances in a manner readers are able to imagine and feel a part of. It is written in an effective story style that carries the reader along with ease. Principally, this part deals with the bigoted behaviour of the author’s aunt. How, while the author is still a child, and in need of compassion and love, this aunt treats her cruelly and without compassion. To some extent, it is hard to comprehend but at the same time, as the author points out, this aunt attributed, unjustly it has to be said, the girl’s father’s failing personality straits, to have been inherited by the author, though there is no evidence. In fact, there is evidence in favour of the opposite.
Though the uncle is far more aware and understanding, he, weakly it must be said, had given up upon trying to control his wife’s excesses. He avoids any possible conflict by remaining out until late each evening and leaving early each morning. Very sad, especially considering he is a police official.
The tale describes how each day effectively became a battle, or at least a potential battle. The slightest misunderstanding frequently lead to unjustified corporal punishment administered in a very vindictive, unwarranted manner. The young girl suffered terribly as a result.
The readers is also given insight into how desperate the young child was for companionship and how, to some extent, this was found at school though there were also problems there.
It must be pointed out, there appears to be an underlying assumption, the reader will have read the first book in the series. Some of the author’s reactions will prove difficult to comprehend, for those who have not read the first book e.g. the issue of multiple personalities (these were dealt with in the review of the first book). It is not until part two of this book these are referred to; too late for the now possibly confused reader.
Part Two – After Midnight
The style and presentation of information in this part is so radically different to part one that it is essentially a different book. It would have been better if the story style of part one had been continued. Nevertheless, it does depict the continuing difficulties the author experienced in her life. It does make for sad reading: most readers by now, will have hoped she would experience something better in her life after all she had been through in childhood. But, as already said, it seems some are destined to never find peace or happiness.
The accounts in this part are a bit of a mishmash. The author moves back and forth through time which, it must be acknowledged, is not detrimental in itself. However, the reader may feel a little lost at times. The reader is informed, and experiences, along with the author, the idiosyncrasies of poor relationship choices, though the reason for them is made clear. The reader will sympathise with her: sometimes it is necessary to grasp the slimmest of opportunities to escape from an existing hardship.
The situations are described in detail enabling the reader to imagine the events and circumstances. These also enable a comprehension of the fears and frustrations that accompany the author throughout.
It is also in this part that the reader is provided with some understanding of what the author suffered as a result of her childhood abuse. The effects and impact will make the most hardened of readers cringe. Why anyone should be allowed to suffer so much defies understanding. Nevertheless, a reader cannot help but admire the fact the author has survived: it is doubtful many would. If they did not become suicidal it is probable most will have failed under the depression that must occur from such experiences.
Bonus Story – ‘One in a Million (A True Story of Friendship)’
This is a moving story of friendship and loss. It is very touching and serves to show how a true friendship should be valued and embraced. Life can be very cruel but the memories left behind are valuable and to be treasured. They grant some reassurance, especially to people who have suffered as the author, that there is goodness in life even if they are not privileged to enjoy or benefit from it.
Rating this memoir proved difficult. The different styles between the three parts as well as the content challenges the mind. As with the first book in the series, the author has openly shared, not only what they experienced but also, to some degree, their own failings: it is honest and real. Three or four stars? Overall, principally due to the content and the honesty:
Four Stars (4*).
The book is available in paperback, digital (e-book) and audio formats.
First book in this series. Review.