Today, I want to tell you about Cheryl Rice's memoir Where Have I Been All My Life
This is an extremely intimate book-- really, really intimate. At times, I wondered if I was supposed to be reading it, but I did read it-- gobbled it up, in fact-- because the intimacy drew me in.
Rice begins the book by talking about her mother's death from cancer and noting that this life event was the impetus she needed to finally write the book that had been living inside of her forever. Rice is a life coach and a therapist, so she knows how to talk about her grief, and she does a wonderful job of personalizing her words for her audience so that she can show her readers exactly how she felt. Rice writes that the loss of her mother called into question every other aspect of her life, and she claims that he journey through grief became a journey home.
She picks up the theme of homesickness early in the book writing about her summers at camp when she longed to come home, and she carries this thread throughout the memoir, revisiting her childhood home, and searching for her mother in what she terms a motherless world. The book's penultimate chapter, "Strike up the band," is a joyful story of homecoming that lets the reader know Rice is well on her way to wholeness that mad me cry happy tears.
Rice's voice is strong in this book-- funny sometimes, critical the next, and, ultimately, so honest that she made me uncomfortable. The format of the book helps amplify this voice-- the chapters are not really chronological and most of them read like stand-alone essays. She throws in letters and other dialogue throughout that both lighten the mood and help illustrate how far she has come on her journey.
I have a soft spot for memoirs, and this one was satisfying.