SAVING GRACE: A MEMOIR OF ADOPTION
by LB Johnson
Most people need some sense of order in their lives. So when one is reading a memoir, a chronological order of events makes the book that much easier to follow.
But many memoirists choose to write their memoirs as a series of vignettes. It’s a popular style and takes on the feel of a series of short stories, similar to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, Unfortunately, if this technique is not properly handled by the author, readers can become very confused and frustrated if one one page they are reading about a five-year-old child, and on the next, that five-year-old is suddenly a grandmother, and on the next, a teenager.
So how amazing to sit back and read LB Johnson’s SAVING GRACE that begins in the present, then slips back time and again to her own adoption as a child, then fasts forward to her decision to give up her own baby, Grace, and not feel frustrated.
I held off writing this review as I couldn’t explain to myself why it was okay for LB Johnson to do this and it wasn’t okay for other writers to do it. The answer has to lie in LB’s ability to simply make it work. It’s less about chronological reporting and more about weaving a beautiful tapestry of interconnected events. It’s less about events and more about how she feels about those events and makes us feel about them. And isn’t that, ultimately, what a memoir worth reading should do?
As someone who mentors others who want to write a memoir, I wouldn’t recommend LB’s approach unless you have her skill. How will you know if you do? Read SAVING GRACE. It’s only 95 cents for the Kindle version at Amazon. Then decide if you can pull it off as gracefully as LB Johnson has done.
©Viga Boland, 2015