Emma Forrest is a poet and her memoir is lyrical. She too struggled with mental illness and ended up living with a man with borderline personality disorder. Her relationship was high profile being as her partner is a famous celebrity, but she doesn’t actually tell you who it is throughout the course of the work. I felt her pain, but also her resolution, and I think that’s important to people facing mental health issues. There is hope.
Everyone is familiar with Malala, but her memoir, although long, is just so informative and beautiful. You would never believe she was so young. Her book provides insight into the bigger issues at play in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and the politics add context to her story rather than distracting (and putting you to sleep.) Plus, she’s just really inspiring and an advocate for female education, as a means of changing the world.
This memoir was published decades ago, but I don’t feel like it’s any less relevant. Ten Boome and her family hid Jewish people during the Holocaust, and ended up imprisoned for their efforts. Many of the family members did not survive the duration of the war, but Ten Boome went on to continue spreading love and hope despite all they had been through, for the rest of her life. It’s a really beautiful and lesser known memoir now, although it was really popular in its day.
Bensen struggled with depression and anxiety, but that isn’t the focus of this story. She meets a man on OKCupid and they decide to travel from Istanbul to London with NO luggage. Her experiences with mental illness are woven skillfully throughout the narrative. It becomes more so a story about letting go. I cried a lot in this one too.
Muslim Girl, by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
Al-Khatahtbeh’s book is very different from Love, Insh Allah but it really draws attention to how 9-11 turned a nation against a minority group in a very real, and very marked way. It’s not that minority groups haven’t always faced persecution, I don’t mean to minimize that, but suddenly the world was watching Muslim people. They had to work twice as hard to prove that they weren’t terrorists, even to tolerating and not fighting back when they were abused and mistreated. That was something that I personally never considered. As soon as a persecuted person fights back, verbally or literally, it is assumed they are aggressive and working against the integrity and values of a country. They aren’t allowed the freedom to defend themselves, because defence becomes interpreted as aggression.
Everyone knows Vardalos from the hugely popular movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I read a lot of comic memoirs so I basically expected this to be on par with Amy Poehler or Mindy Kaling. It’s something entirely different. Vardalos is a spokeswoman for foster parenting and adoption because after years and years of painful treatments, she couldn’t conceive a child. The struggle, pain and stubborn optimism with which she faced her journey is unbelievable and inspiring and then when she finally found her daughter (and her daughter found her) through the American foster care system, the story is basically miraculous. I cried A LOT reading this, and it gave me hope. Not just for my own children, but in hope.