If someone asked a younger me what a memoir is, I would have scrunched up my face and said that it’s a boring book about dead people. (Cue buzzer noise.) Wrong and wrong. I don’t think I had actually read any memoirs until I was forced to in my college classes. That’s when I discovered my love for this genre. Reading about the real lives of other people who are able to take moments that are seemingly insignificant and connect them to bigger themes opened up a whole new way of looking at the world. I think it also has helped me develop more empathy and understanding for people who come from different backgrounds.
Here are two memoirs I read during March. Neither of them are “high literary quality” like what I read in class. But I enjoyed them both, and I would recommend them to someone who thinks memoirs are boring (like I did).
How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana (and Abigail Pesta)
This is the story about the life of a girl who grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to a refugee camp in Burundi, survived a brutal massacre, and then moved to the United States. Definitely not light material. But it’s written in a way that is captivating, easy to follow, and makes you want to cram in another chapter before you get off the bus (which was me everyday). Sandra struggled with feeling very alone in a new culture she didn’t understand and dealing with PTSD from her horrific experience. It was a good reminder that you never know the stories of the people you pass on the street or even come into contact with on a daily basis.
Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark
This YouTuber and musician shares brief essays reflecting on her experiences with everything from YouTube fame to relationships to dealing with depersonalization disorder (which is something I had never heard of until I watched her videos). It’s an easy book to pick up and read for a few minutes when you have some downtime or need to unwind. I really enjoyed the variety (there are pages with her song lyrics and even a section of recipes!) and Dodie’s vulnerability. I can relate to a lot of the feelings she describes, and learning about DPD really made me empathize with those struggling with this disorder.
I’d love to hear what some of your favorite memoirs are! Let me know, and I will add them to my ever-growing Goodreads list.