Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson

I gave this book 5 of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Jeanette Winterson was long overdue for a memoir and she didn’t disappoint. Her non-fiction writing, like her fiction, has a sort of non-linear feel even if it is chronological. Not being able to find the compass on her stories is what gives them an ethereal feel and, for the reader, a sense that you are only along for the ride. It’s what I love most about her writing, no being able to figure it out, never really getting comfortably settled in.

This is a slice of her life across the singular topic of being adopted. That sounds so simple, but no one is better equipped to express the exquisite agony and beauty of this topic from childhood, with her severe, evangelical adopted mother, to the present, meeting her biological mother and family. Nothing about it is simple, nothing is expected. I am not adopted, and I suspect that her take on it might be different to those who are, but it would also be different to them because no one could possibly describe all the tangents the way she does.

She refuses to make a simple syrup of her experiences and so takes us all to a place where there is no separation between emotions and thought, where feeling and thinking happen simultaneously and equivalently and the mess that is. It sounds complicated, maybe overly so, and it is. That’s life.

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