Written by Lauryn Smith
A version of this article was originally published in the All Booked Up section of the October 2021 edition of “Networking News,” the official newsletter of the Professional Editors Network.
There’s something special about a noncelebrity memoir.
With a celebrity memoir, you usually know at least a teensy bit about the person and their life experiences before you even crack open their book.
But with a noncelebrity memoir, you tend to go in with fewer assumptions and “spoilers.” With a noncelebrity memoir, you are given a valuable opportunity to learn something new about life.
I recently read one such memoir, namely Amy Farrar’s “A Jersey Girl’s Guide to the Universe.” This memoir is a testament to how alike all of us really are, just people doing our best to navigate our time and place in the world. It also shows how, in one way or another, we are not alone.
Despite the circumstances of Farrar’s life and my own being quite different (unlike Farrar, I am not from New Jersey, I did not grow up in an alcoholic home, I have never been in an abusive relationship, etc.), Farrar is incredibly relatable. Reading her memoir feels like reading an email or a letter from a friend or family member, especially when she discusses the less exciting albeit focal aspects of life (e.g., health issues, job stress).
The memoir has a fairly mellow tone, but Farrar’s spunky personality is nevertheless evident. Her writing style is crisp and casual. She does not mince words.
Despite its short length (184 pages), the book is packed with fun stories and interesting musings. Farrar tells of her Slovakian immigrant grandparents, of the highs and lows throughout her childhood and adulthood, and of the unexpected love she found miles from her hometown.
What really intrigued me was Farrar’s openness about her paranormal experiences. She talks about her experiences with lucid dreams, premonitions, and more as matter-of-factly as she talks about hairstyles and Halloween costumes. She normalizes her encounters with the supernatural, claiming to live with “one foot on terra firma and another in some other dimension.”
Farrar talks a little bit about a lot. But each detail, no matter how large or small, feels intentionally placed for the sake of a greater purpose―teaching us that there is more to life than what meets the eye. And by revealing both the particularities of her day-to-day life over the years and the realizations that she has gained over time, she also demonstrates that maybe we are not so different from one another after all.
If you are looking for a quick and comfortable read, especially during the ongoing pandemic craziness, then “A Jersey Girl” may be worth bumping to the top of your reading list.
Title: A Jersey Girl’s Guide to the Universe: A Memoir
Author: Amy Farrar
Publisher: Independently published
Published: October 8, 2020
List price: $14.99
Available as e-book? Yes
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