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Posted April 2, 2006
John Sheirer's reminiscences of growing up 'mostly normal' take us to his family farm at the base of Wills Mountain, near the village of Madley in Bedford County, southwest central Pennsylvania. He '...wasn't kidnapped as a child, never abused, abandoned, beaten, or sold to the highest bidder. My parents didn't lock me in the basement. The cults never got hold of me - not counting a pretty wacky Bible camp...No president denied that I was his love child. No aliens abducted me...' He did, however, grow up with a joyful, sometimes poignant series of childhood experiences that many of us can identify with. First loves and schoolyard alliances (and misalliances) basketball practice and graduation, relationships with parents and siblings, grandmothers and uncles are woven together into chapters with themes that resonate into our own lives. The book begins with a Prologue that is followed by fifteen chapters: Where I'm Going, Wearing a Mask, Coming to See Me, Learning to Swear, Between the Eyes, New Milennium, Lord Land, Last Words, First Hoop, Tarpaper Goddess, Ceremony, Thing, Choice, Ghosts, and Both, followed by an Epilogue. My favorite chapter is Lord Land, where the author finally climbs to the quarry at the top of Wills Mountain, a forbidden childhood place, and sees his family cabin far below. The quarry is 'a place that had been a symbol of where lived - not just a house, but a family and way of life on our small valley farm that somehow made me unique...' We discover that growing up mostly normal can transform a seemingly ordinary childhood into a source of rich memories that makes one wish they had grown up in the middle of nowhere, too.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 6, 2005
Funny and Beautiful Memoir
John Sheirer's memoir of returning home after many years away is a joy. He really shows how a somewhat sheltered and odd farm youth actually helped him develop into a down-to-earth, caring, college professor with strong values. Some sections had me laughing out loud while others brought me close to tears. As you might expect from someone who teaches memoir writing, it's exceptionally well written and structured better than any memoir I've ever read. This is not a famous writer, but anyone who likes to read thoughtful, reflective, passionate, humorous, loving, and readable writing will really appreciate this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.