The Boots My Mother Gave Me
Eloquently written and a definite take on the whole “coming of age” theme. It’s a lengthy journey that leads us through a teen’s eyes, and takes us well into her adult life as she is maturing, fearing and facing challenges head on.
Harley’s focus is getting out of town and never coming back. A drifter trying to find herself, or at times, lose herself as she experiences anything, but specifically, she wants the complete opposite of her mother’s life.
People say you shouldn’t judge others until you have walked in their shoes. Here I stood, literally, in my mother’s shoes. A part of me was curious how she walked through life and found herself in the present. The other part remained frightened, should I ever find myself on the same path.
After seventeen years, I found in my possession the ultimate choice. Without a moment’s contemplation, I chose my life. I was in a good place, right where I needed to be.
As early as I could remember, I dreamed of getting out of the town I grew up in. It sat there, so small, with no opportunity, no excitement. The town was my father and my father was the town, suffocating, narrow-minded, a dream stealer – a succubus. There had to be more to life than this, and I was determined to find out.
And while it sounds exciting, and perfect for a twenty-something to do before she settles down, this one does everything in her power never to settle. Running to the risky unknown, and running away from what many would consider safe.
But safety to me, is not necessarily safety to “Harley” and her personal experience with relationships (via her co-dependant parents) has damaged her view on couples for life. Her father is a mentally and physically abusive alcoholic and a downright mean drunk.
I stood before him, much like a soldier in training faces a drill sergeant. My father expected my undivided attention while he told me how worthless I was.
And her mother keeps enabling him, protecting him, and enduring him. And so must they (Harley and her sister) as long as they continue living there.
I could read the nervous energy all over her. That’s what we had become, a bunch of ions, our charge continuously reforming to suit our father’s energy.
Deeply (and continually) introspective, and I liked it a lot. I was able to connect with her full-on, through a good portion. Her tentative exploration of infatuation and “love” (although she can’t say the “L” word). She was young after all, and as I experienced her nightmare of a father through her eyes, I couldn’t blame her. At first.
At a certain point, however, I became exasperated. My connection wavered because I couldn’t understand how she could be so nonchalant about something so intense and so obviously perfect.
“Have you ever missed someone so bad it hurts?”
Yes!!! So I couldn’t fathom… I mean… I can understand the “games” and hesitation maybe at first, but to go on like that was inconceivable to me. But then again… I had not lived her life.
I’d be excited and then the chapter would change and we’d be back on the road again and I’d be all…. what what whaaaaaaat!!??? I even flipped back a few pages, at one point to see if I accidentally skipped a conversation or something. I needed more.
And while this book has a ALOT to do with romance, love, and that perfect hero hottie that just happens to always be there… that best friend that develops into so much more, I realized, this is not necessarily a romance novel. Oh I wanted it to be… but this book is more about her own healing and growth, than it was about romantic love.
It’s a study in humanity. A fight for emotional survival and also a lesson in acceptance. The good, the bad and the ugly, and sometimes all of that could come from the same person. It’s a good read if you’re in the mood for something enlightening and inspirational but on a more “normal” level. Nothing outrageous or crazy or spiritually wondrous. Just… a certain maturity and “joie de vivre” that comes from experience… and acceptance.
Plenty good, powerful, and at times painful. It sort of reads like an autobiography. Almost like a super long letter to herself, as she “worked it out”. Many contemplative entries reliving the past, exploring the present and it has that “full circle” feel, as she ventured into her future.
3.5 stars (it felt like a 4-star plus for the most part, but my exasperation, and occasionally, the lengthy inner dialogue, got the better of me).