Post #31 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Raves – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
Reviewed by Karen Walker
Recently, I reviewed Sue William Silverman’s first memoir called Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You. In that book, Silverman chronicles a childhood steeped in betrayal of the worst kind—that of a father savagely attacking his young daughter from infancy until the day she left home for college. In her second memoir, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction, we come to understand the impact her father’s abuse had as we are taken on a journey through the dark, lonely world of sexual addiction and the road to recovery.
In a recent interview, author Sue William Silverman revealed that her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, poured out of her in three months. But Love Sick took five years to write. “It was hard to find the voice that needed to tell the story,” Silverman said.
The narrative voice in Love Sick alternates between the one addicted to sex and the sober woman who knows better. In doing so, Silverman allows us to see, feel, touch, hear and smell the addict’s world. From its great first sentence: “Every Thursday at noon I have sex with Rick in room #21 of the Rainbow Motel” to the dialogue between addicts in group therapy, the book draws us into Silverman’s universe.
Love Sick could be considered self-help, in addition to being a memoir, as it reveals the steps an addict must go through in an in-house treatment facility. Having attended Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings for nine years, I was somewhat familiar with some of the processes described. But Silverman’s attention to detail, her vivid descriptions, and the exquisite imagery she employs, made the program come alive.
With stunning honesty and self-awareness, Silverman shows us the devastating consequences of her incestuous relationship with her father. What a surprise it was for her to learn that other girls’ fathers did not visit their bedrooms at night, did not brutally rape them, did not physically assault them, did not betray the sacred trust between parent and child. We understand why the adolescent Sue is confused by her own and others’ sexuality. How she could misinterpret the behavior of boys and how dangerous boys and situations might feel more comfortable than the attentions of a nice, kind-hearted boy.
You will find the same superb skills of a gifted writer in both of these memoirs, despite the different narrative voice and styles. A master at creative nonfiction, Silverman shows us how it’s done well—with rounded characterization, compelling dialogue, concrete descriptions, and action that continually moves us forward. If you’re writing your life story, there is much you can learn about the craft of memoir writing by reading this memoir.
Anyone with any kind of compulsive behavior, be it food, money, drugs, alcohol or relationships, will find pieces of themselves in this story, as well as ways to address those issues. Love Sick is both literary and a practical guide to recovery. That is quite an accomplishment.