Friday, January 1, 2010

Four Points of View

Reading memoir can often be frustrating because one never hears the other side of the story. A child who is bitter about their upbringing and writes the horrors of their youth is telling one version of truth. A good memoir acknowledges good and bad and paints a dynamic picture of their story.

The Kids are All Right by four siblings is fascinating on many levels, but mostly because it endeavors to tell a sad and painful story through the lenses of each of the 4 children involved. Amanda, Dan, Diana and Liz Welch all now in their 30's and 40's each take turns telling parts of the story of the death of their father in a tragic car accident and then sadly, the death of their mother just three years later, leaving the 4 children ages 8-19 with no parents or caretakers.

One of them goes to college, one of them travels, one of them turns to drugs and gets bounced from home to home, the youngest gets taken in by a local family and is virtually cut off from her siblings. Reading these 4 stories, that navigate the tricky waters of memory between 4 children who have grown up, will give the reader a fine sense of the confusion and isolation and sadness they all experienced. The title gives away the ending, but you do still enjoy the story and tale it took to get there.

After you finish be sure to check out the website the kids have put together: which shows pictures and video of their young lives, and the special bonus for those who value point of view, they acknowledge all the players in this story and allow them to write their own side of the story on the website. The story of the four kids scattering to the wind and eventual reunion is essentially 4 reconstructed memories of children and teens. The authors welcome their family and friends to weigh in with their own version of the story. A few people who aren't so favorably spoken of take advantage of this opportunity. Any reader of this account should also check out these stories; they are part of the whole picture as well.

One interesting sub plot is that the children's mother was at one time a famous soap opera actress and many people who were part of her fan clubs write in to tell of the mother's acting days and the kindness and friendship she extended to her fans. I loved this detail. It reminds us how many people are really part of our story and how many points of view can paint a vivid picture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this book, read it in October and have recommended it widely since. What resilience these siblings demonstrate. It is fascinating to contemplate who didn't come to their defense when they most needed it. MKP