Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Book Review: Unbridled

I have been sent many books for perusal. This month I reviewed another memoir:

Barbara McNally Unbridled: a memoir

In addition to her writing, Barbara is the founder of the Mother, Lover, Fighter, Sage Foundation, dedicated to offering workshops, seminars, and scholarships that enhance the lives of women. Proceeds from this book go to the foundation to fund programs and organizations like Project Sarah, Rachel’s Women’s Center, Wounded Warriors, and San Diego Writers, Ink.

What I find is that many yearn to write a memoir, but many fail to entice the reader in. There must be a plot, characterization, setting, theme, and you must LIKE the characters! Many memoirs seem to be a series of vignettes, and they simply don't capture the reader. I've been sent four books for review, lately, and many are self-published, navel gazing books, that fail to capture me. The bottom line for me, though, even if you self-publish you need a fabulous editor.

McNally has written of her journey of self-discovery. I know, a common theme, but it reads well. I picked it up one sunny, spring afternoon, and read to page 111. The journey was amazing. The descriptive language, setting, locale, and the honesty with which she writes of her family issues: divorce, children, issues with adult parents.

She is a hot tamale, attractive wife and mother, and adult child! She wrote honestly, and quite well about her journey. I believe that memoirs help us to deal with our own issues.

It was almost perfectly written, more like a well-crafted novel. It was a wonderful read for a memoir, and I was captured until the end.

I can write this, since I have written a memoir. After one editor read my book, she suggested I should put in the lessons I learned, not just the events. You have to spell it out for readers sometimes. This book was meaningful for women, especially, and those, like me, who married, divorced and then had to figure out who and what she was - away from her ex-husband and adult children.
I would heartily recommend this book!
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@Barrie Summy


Christine said...

I like memoirs, great review!

Barrie said...

I've wondered about Barbara McNally's story. So, what exactly was it about the end that didn't work for you? Was it just not tied up enough, as in this is how all that went before has affected how I live my life now? Just curious. Thanks for reviewing, Jenn!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

It worked out perfectly, Barrie. That was almost surreal. I remain skeptical in this day and age.
Her honesty regarding her intimate family details made me uncomfortable. I was impressed with it, but when reading I kept asking myself, would I share this information about my family? Would I quote my loved ones?
She is using this to market her new work, and I laud that.
If I were told it was a novel, I would find it much better.

Red said...

You've given me a perspective of memoirs that I hadn't noticed before. Yes, I read some crappy memoirs before but didn't know why they were crappy.

Kay said...

She certainly is a "hot tamale". Sounds like an interesting read too.

Barrie said...

Hey Jenn, thanks for explaining. Like you, I think I've gotten a bit skeptical. Lately, I find myself questioning under my breath, "What's the agenda? What's the agenda?" :)

Sarah Laurence said...

I’m not usually a fan of memoirs for the reasons you list. It was really interesting getting the insider perspective on what makes a memoir work from a memoir writer like you. Sorry to be a month late to visit – I’ve been offline revising my manuscript (a novel, not a memoir, but inspired by my family's sabbatical in England.)