The book is written and read well by the author, a well known, award winning actress, but I am not sure what purpose she wished to accomplish by writing it, except perhaps to clear up her own conscience as she reviewed her life and perhaps to right some wrongs she committed along her path to stardom. I did not find the memoir compelling, and I am not sure that there were enough reviews yet written to justify the glorious praise being given to it. It consists of a short series of letters written to people involved in her life, people with whom she interacted, with whom she had relationships, people whom she abused, people whom she loved dearly, people who influenced her, and pets that she adored. Also, keep it in mind that she is still a young woman, hopefully with many more years to live. Born in 1964, she is only just entering her 50’s, so the memoir is by that very nature, brief.
In the letters she wrote to these people, even one to the unknown man who might become the husband of her now middle school aged daughter, she offers her advice and apologies, and in some cases, condemnations as she explains her past. She writes about her children, her parents, her siblings, friends, teachers, lovers, animals, taxi drivers, designers, fellow actors, and others, but especially praises the oyster harvester who managed, against all odds, to bring her father his last meal before he succumbed to a grave illness. She invites us to be voyeurs, looking into the window of her life as she explores it.
The author loved her father deeply, and the final pages of the book were the most moving expression of her emotion and the most poignant for me. Prior to that I simply felt she was reviewing and critiquing her sexual exploits and partners and was attempting to prove that she had mastered the use of crude, descriptive language. I found some of the letters to be more interesting and revealing than others, like those describing her childbirth experience, her near death experience, and those involving her father. Others were confusing, without a timeline or purposeful direction.
The author’s parents were married for more than 6 decades; Mary-Louise Parker never married. She is the mother of two children. One, a young boy born in 2004, and the other, a child she adopted in 2007, from Ethiopia.
The memoir seemed to be helping her to work through the events, tragedies and joys of her life, but it is a picture of someone who spent a lot of time being unhappy and angry, defying the rules and generally often behaving irresponsibly, until she finally “came of age”. Although her father was excessively ethical, she seemed to be exactly the opposite, possibly in rebellion. His overzealous adherence to rules created chaos in his life since he could not bend rules under any circumstance; she, on the other hand, took pleasure in doing just that.
I did not bond with this book. Often I zoned out and forgot what I was listening to because the author made no connection with me. Growing up, while the author seemed sometimes reckless, my coming of age was the polar opposite; I did not have the luxury of being irresponsible, and so I followed the letter of the law. Still, the memoir is written with a light sense of humor and subtle wit as she describes her reactions to certain events in her life and her feelings about certain people, so if it is your cup of tea to read a book that will not tax your brain, and if you like to read about the rich and famous, have at it!