Friday, January 24, 2014

Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir by Helen Peppe

Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Writing about one's life can be eventful - especially if you grew up in rural Maine on a farm filled with animals, unruly children and two worn-out parents. Helen Peppe spends her childhood trying to find her place among a brood of nine children, many of whom are years ahead of her. Her inquisitive mind rattles the patience of everyone around her and sets a course for her that she could never have imagined.

Written with honesty and wonder, Helen explores her childhood years in order to better understand what her future may hold. She presents the good, the bad and sometimes the very bad to the reader, bringing her life story to greater clarity. Filled with humor as well as heartache, she shows a side of rural life that many in her generation experienced but few truly understood.

I found many interesting books available on NetGalley, but few touched my heart with a sense of real honesty. This book was one of those, presenting the many different angles of the author's childhood way of life. From her early years to those confusing teenage years, the author relived the memories that provided life lessons, motivation and sometimes grief to the education she received at school.

There were a number of times that I felt for the author. Her older siblings considered her life to be much easier than the ones they had but the author also acknowledged how hard they and their parents had to work in order to make ends meet. Not only did she write about the darker side of growing up in the country, she also gave the reader a glimpse of how innocent children were back in her generation. In many of her anecdotes, I could see some of my own family members. It made the people within the memoir seem more familiar to me than simple characters within a book.

I cringed when the bad times came into the author's life, wanting more for her to be more than a simple housewife or farmer's wife. When she was placed into a position beyond her understanding, I wanted someone to stand up for her - to protect her innocence. It made me angry that she became the one to blame instead of the perpetrator. Further into the book, I cheered when she realized her worth and was glad that she fought to keep a hold on the one person who could see it as well.

This memoir ran the gamut of emotions, taking me right along with each page I read. The ease in which the author told her story helped to keep the pages turning and made me want to know what was going to happen next. Even if it was something I dreaded to learn, I wanted to read the next page, next chapter. The author didn't try to make herself better than the truth. She wrote about her mistakes as readily as her accomplishments and I believe this made the difference for me. If you're looking for an uplifting, honest and down-to-earth type of memoir, I would put this one at the top of your list.

Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir by Helen Peppe will be available for purchase in February 2014. You can pre-order a copy in either hardcover or audio-book format from several online retailers. A link to Amazon is provided below.
Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir by Helen Peppe

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