Book Review #80: When I First  Knew

Author: Joan Alden

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), LGBTQIA

Language: English 

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC

Date of publication: 12 January 2016

No. of pages: 108

Synopsis:

It is difficult to be a tomboy, especially in suburban Detroit in the 1950s. But Abigail Ann Harper not only flaunted it, but she strived to break the bonds of gender stereotypes. 

Review:

It’s starting to get to me how unfair life is when it comes to boys and girls.

A profound statement from a 7-year old girl speaks a lot about the society that was prevalent at that time and still exists currently. I love a book which has a statement to make, a story to tell. This is one of those book that you have to read, because words from an innocent heart strikes metal harder than a piece of hot metal.

The book can be described as a fictional narrative of memoir format where the lead character Abigail Harper tells the story of her upbringing in a narrow-minded society. The poignant narrative style is quite effective in bringing out the character and helps the readers in forming a bond with her. I did note a large number of grammatical and punctuation errors, though I wasn’t sure if it was intentional to depict a young girl’s style of writing to her imaginary friend or it was an unconscious effort on behalf of author due to her involvement with the story. 

But Mom said, “That’s not the sort of thing you should be doing anyway.”

“Why?” I said angry. 

“Keep it up”, she warned me, “and it won’t matter how pretty you are, the boys won’t be interested.”

The clarity of the language definitely helps in maintaining the flow of the story in first person which made the book quite effective in transporting the readers to the self-explorative journey of the character towards self discovery. The title is definitely straightforward and represents the main theme of standing apart in the crowd. However, like always, I was not happy with the art form used as a cover image. 

My opinion: Even though the genre represents adults, I would definitely recommend this book to both the adult audience as well as the young adults and teenagers. Frankly, at times, I was reminded of Anne Frank and the classic To Kill a Mockingbird mainly because of the style of narration used. I loved it.

My rating: 4 out of 5

Favourite quote: 

It’s not a good idea to go along with something just to please others because it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.

Mother hates phonies but she wants me to be one.

In my family Ted is the smart one, Kate is the talented ine, and I’m the pretty one. I’m not expected to be smart or talented. 

Mom was watching us from the kitchen window, and when we came in the house she told Dad that he had to stop throwing ne the football because I was growing breasts. I wanted Dad to explain to her that I catch the ball with my hands, as he taught me, not against my body, but Dad walked away. Later, I was looking at myself in the mirrow after I Took a shower and In Didn’t see any signs that my breats are growing, but I know Mom’s new rule isn’t to protect my breasts.  

People see what they expect to see. To her and to Mom any football in my hands had to be Ted’s.

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