My therapist challenged me a while back to list the things that I wanted to do that relied on other people. Things that I was too scared to do for fear of, among many other things, rejection.
One of those things was to join a book club.
I spent a few weeks searching across Canberra for a book club I could join and found very few results. Of the couple that remained, one was designed for women over 60 and the other met once a month in a cafe on the south side of Canberra with only 2 marking regularly that they would attend.
Turns out Canberra just didn't have the book club I want to join. So I considered making my own. I discussed it at my work, tossed the idea around and saw who was interested. The feedback was a resounding "sure, I'll come", which to me was all the encouragement I needed.
Then COVID-19 landed and my book club dream was postponed.
But that doesn't mean I can't talk about the books I've been reading on here! So, hi all! Welcome to my virtual book club where I discuss a book I've read, what I liked and disliked and tell you if I think you should bother reading it or not. Sit back, relax and skip to the bottom for my rating, recommended reader type and overview if you don't want the analysis! ;)
The book I am reviewing today is a memoir by Australian musician and actress Clare Bowditch. It was gifted to me for Christmas last year by my great-aunt along with a few other novels and I was intrigued by the photo adorning the cover. A young girl, with chubby edges, posing her heart out with no care for the response. I loved it.
I confess I am normally a crime reader. Murder mysteries, killers and thrillers are what excite me and attract my eye at the Lifeline Book-fair every year and this book is not one of those.
In fact it would normally be one of the first to escape my attention.
But, as it was a gift, it was chosen for me and receiving a book as a present will never upset me. I was also excited to read something different, something with a little less blood and a little more of a lesson.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The entire way through I found myself riding the rollercoaster of her life with her as she retold it. The way the book is written reminds me of my many camping trips in which stories get told around the campfire about peoples lives and the intricacy of what makes them so special to each person.
Clare writes as if she is speaking to the reader like a close companion she wants to have simply listen to her story, and it's a hell of a story.
After losing her sister at a young age, Clare faced ruthless bullying about her weight throughout primary school while she grows up in Melbourne. The memoir talks about the changes she made and the reactions she got when she moulded herself to fit in. Throughout the book Clare talks about the life she dreamed of living when she was 21, the big moments that defined her early years and why they made such an impact on the rest of the life.
The novel flows effortlessly through her early childhood to her early twenties and makes clear connections between events and their lasting effect on her mental health including her breakdown while living in London at 21.
She talks in detail about her road to recovery, using her playful humour, clever acronyms and honest raw emotion to lead her reflection.
The results left me feeling grateful for my life and each day I get to continue living it.
Her honesty is the most powerful part of this memoir. She doesn't shy away from the dirty laundry of her past, instead she airs it out, shows it off and explains why she thinks its important that it happened and that she continued on despite it.
In doing this she reminds all of us that we too have dirty laundry, we too as humans have suffered in many ways and we too have continued on. She shows us the strength in being resilient to life's tragedies but without pretending they do not hurt us.
There is power in being human, in loving, in loss, in formation of creativity, in challenging times and in fabulous times. Each moment defines the person we are and Clare reminds us to appreciate that.
At 21 she told herself that one day she would write about the darkest part of her life and how she got out of it and at 44 she did that and shared her story with the rest of us.
The story was enjoyable, interesting, engaging and beautiful and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an easy read that will take you on a bit of a journey to reflect your own inner demons (as we know we all have them) and ask yourself what is it you want to be doing and how you can achieve it while being your own kind of human.
Overview: A reflective memoir written by Clare Bowditch focusing on her early music career, relationships, her childhood and her nervous breakdown at 21. Large portion focuses on the lessons she learnt in her recovery and what it means to be human.
Time to read: This book took me approximately 8 hours split over a weekend, easy to read language, conversational not complicated.
Recommended for: Women in particular, great read for teens and early twenties, also suit older women who enjoy a book focused on reflection.