Memoir / Autobiography
The Girl From Number 7 Windsor Avenueby Vivienne Grilliot Worthington
Plot/Idea: Worthington creates a strong shout out to any child who has grown up with a parent in the military—and who has had to move schools often. She realistically portrays the challenges and losses experienced along the way as well as the humor she finds with the new people she meets.
Prose: The writing is even and clear. Readers will gain a genuine sense for each location the family lives and the locals they get to know in the process.
Originality: Focusing on the military experience from a youthful person’s point of view is refreshing. Worthington was able to see the world at a young age, even though her focus is mainly on the social aspect of her situation.
Character/Execution: The author gives readers some foreshadowing regarding her heritage, which is eventually sorted out later in the book. Her reflection about her circumstances is honest and thoughtful, and readers can fully understand the issues that come with being nomadic in a military family.
The Odyssey of a Hippie Marijuana Growerby John-Paul Cernak
Plot/Idea: This unusual memoir reads like a well-crafted novel, though readers may wish for more historical context to round out the author's story.
Prose: The casual tone fits the memoir's theme, though the prose could be tightened in places. The author makes the most of rich descriptions, giving the different scenes a vibrant and realistic feel.
Originality: The author adds depth to the conventional going-against-the-grain theme with his vivid portrayals of an exceptionally unique life.
Character/Execution: Some characters lack depth and play a more superficial role in the author's life, but the book's lavish descriptions make up for the shortage of finely-tuned characterizations.
Leaving the Faith of Our Fathers -- A Lifetime Journeyby Lois Requist
Plot/Idea: Requist's memoir has strong religious underpinnings, and her retrospective storytelling examines how the church has influenced her life—in positive and negative ways. She openly questions conventional religious beliefs while reflecting on her own spirituality throughout.
Prose: The prose leans toward the didactic, and Requist's style is steeped in religious writing, with a powerful emphasis on faith-based lessons.
Originality: Requist explores the impact religion has had on her personally as well as how it influenced her family. Her strong faith-based opinions form the foundation of the memoir, though she does take time in places to analyze her beliefs from a more open standpoint.
Character/Execution: Characterization stays fairly rigid throughout the memoir, but Requist reveals moments of pain that make her more vulnerable and relatable.
M*A*S*H Vietnam: What it's like to be a war nurseby Lorna Griess
Plot/Idea: This is an intriguing idea, but the text could be expanded to obtain a larger view of the terribly difficult situation and inherent dangers of working and living in a war zone.
Prose: The book is compact and mimics journalistic writing. Griess describes several different events that took place during her time in Vietnam, and although the activities are less dramatic than readers may expect, she is particularly skilled at ending chapters with short, provocative sentences that lend suspense to the narrative.
Originality: The author's perspective as a female nurse who served in Vietnam gives this originality and a sense of variation from similar books.
Character/Execution: Griess's character is brave, adaptable and kind. She does not come across as having much trepidation about her tasks, and readers may wish for more interiority throughout the memoir—much of the writing focuses on relating her experiences rather than her emotions during and after those events.
Deep Creek or Bustby Deborah Laird Meeks
Plot/Idea: Meeks recounts a fairly typical 1960s example of a Girl Scout camping adventure, emphasizing the bond that grows between the girls during the trip.
Prose: Despite some minor grammar hiccups, the prose is clear and supports the story well. Meeks's friendly and familiar tone evokes the sunbaked friendships and cool evenings of summer camp.
Originality: Not quite a coming-of-age story—and depicted more as a pleasant memory—this memoir skillfully portrays the twilight innocence of childhood during a tumultuous time in the United States.
Character/Execution: Meeks offers readers a range of characters, including her own role in the story, as she becomes more confident and outspoken during the course of camp. She threads the importance of leadership through the narrative as well, crafting strong mentors who greatly influence the girls attending camp.