This past year I read four books written by strong women who have overcome some adversity, and then written about it, beautifully and eloquently.
The first was “Blood, bones, and butter: the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton. Feisty and scrappy, Gabrielle survived an unconventional childhood to eventually open her own acclaimed restaurant in New York City: Prune. Her writing is amazing and provocative – and she really made me laugh.
Then there is “Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl also had an unusual upbringing, in the rural northwest, led a life of sex and drugs in her early 20s, and to clean up her act embarked on the hike of a lifetime: a thousand mile journey from the California desert to the Oregon border. Her book is a page turner indeed.
Another beautiful blonde, Piper Kerman (who looks a lot like Gabrielle Hamilton), had a middle class upbringing, attended Ivy League Smith College, but then was seduced (literally) into the drug trade – 10 years after walking away from it she served a 13 month stint in a minimum security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. She writes about her experience in her book, “Orange is the new black : my year in a women’s prison,” in a winsome and articulate way, which makes you really have empathy not only for her, but for the amazing women incarcerated with her. Piper is using her experience there to help incarcerated women today, offering various sources of information at the back of her book. This book has been made into a series on Netflix.
Finally, there is the classic, “The Glass Castle: a memoir” by Jeannette Walls, which is the ultimate in a tale about overcoming poverty and being raised by mentally ill parents. One is amazed that Jeannette turned out as well as she did, and that she was able to write about it in such a humorous and memorable way. This book will soon be a movie, which will hopefully inspire everyone to read the book.
All four of these books, which can be found at the Long Island Community Library, have similarities in the author, as well as being warm, humorous, entertaining, and above all, well-written.