I write fiction but my personal tastes as a reader run to human interest stories. I love reading memoirs about personal struggle involving people overcoming physical and mental challenges. If there is an account of someone battling an illness or disability, I am right there at the library to check the book out. These along with books about personal growth and spirituality fill a need within me that simply defies words. Could it be because I have a disability?
Although I had a brief flirtation with deep dark novels as in the Flowers in the Attic series by V C Andrews when I was a teenager, my passion for non-fiction started when I was twelve.
I read all the Judy Blume books back in the day and a handful of frothy high school romances. I imagined that when I got to be that age, my life would be like those white American girls with the great figures, cool cars and tons of friends. Sorry, that was never to be my story.
When I was in grade seven my friend Tina was reading a fascinating paperback. There was a picture of a girl in braids on the front cover.
"Hey, what's that book you're reading?"
"It's about a baby. You can have it when I'm finished." she said.
I examined the cover more closely. The title of the book was simply Karen. It was written by a Marie Killilea
I had always been drawn to books with someone's name and their picture on the front cover.
My interest was not only piqued for that story - a mother's account of dealing with her daughter's cerebral palsy in 1940's America, but for every other book on every other condition that anyone wrote about.
Now decades later, my passion for these kinds of stories has grown even stronger. Aside from my need to know how people deal with their challenges and issues, it reminds me that we all have something. If people's lives appear charmed on the surface, there is something they aren't telling us.
I try to remember this whenever I get down on myself for not being successful enough, thin enough or rich enough.
Yes I have a disability and there have been and will always be obstacles in my way. I'm not going to sit here and proselytize about how I will overcome them all and surmount every difficulty that crosses my path. I might overcome some roadblocks but not others. If anyone has the temerity to brag about how great their life is, my question is this? Is it genuine gratitude for what they have or a blatant denial of what they don't have.
I'd really like to know.
I've read enough memoirs where people have a compulsion to put a fairy tale spin on their lives. Then I've read others that are real and actually affect me like Karen. I wonder if the library has an old copy lying around. I'd really like to reread it.