Publication Date: 8th May 2015
Genre(s): Non-fiction, Memoir, Psychology
Series Status: Stand alone
Format and Source: Paperback, Sent by author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In every family there is a rock—the person that keeps things together. In Blaire Sharpe’s family, that rock was her grandma. As she shares the inspiring story of her relationship with her grandma, Blaire expands on the notion of what it really means to be loved. When she was just an infant, Blaire’s troubled parents divorced. Since both parents were incapable of raising Blaire and her siblings, the children were slated for foster care—until their grandmother, Eleanor, stepped in to raise them as her own. As Eleanor valiantly struggled against a family legacy of alcoholism and depression, she modeled strength and wisdom to endure the most challenging of times. Still, Blaire’s life was not perfect. As she matured into adulthood, she battled addictions that eventually led her into recovery, just as Eleanor’s health began to decline. When she found herself sandwiched between two generations, each increasingly needy, Blaire poignantly reveals how she discovered the true meaning of love and commitment, and the essence of what it means to be a mother. Not Really Gone is the story about the undying love a grandmother gave her granddaughter—a love that inspired her to carry on and become the rock in her own family.
With memoirs I usually don’t get as emotionally involved as I did with this book. In the beginning the narrative was more telling the story than showing, but by the middle I was eagerly invested in the story of the author’s life.
Her life suits a drama better than a reality. Her story starts with her as a child dealing with an absent mother and an alcoholic father, who has to rely on his parents to look after his kids.This is where Sharpe’s dependence on her grandmother for emotional support began.
I adore how she added her grandmother, Eleanor, into the story. Instead of focusing the narrative entirely on her grandmother and how much of a rock she was to the family, Sharpe focused on her own life and how her grandmother was always there, willing to help. When Sharpe moved to New York, Eleanor went along to help her settle down. When Sharpe struggled with her relationships, she went to Eleanor for support. When Sharpe’s alcoholism became a major issue, she went to Eleanor for help.
Speaking of alcoholism, I did find the portrayal of alcoholism and mental health issues incredibly well-done. Instead of the generally hyperbolic version of addictions and mental health issues most fiction authors portray, she was blunt and showed how there were other things happening in her life than her fight with alcoholism.
The last section of the book is what had me the most emotionally involved. As Eleanor’s health declined her and her granddaughter’s roles were reversed, with Sharpe being the carer. You could clearly see Sharpe develop as time went on, from just another member of her ever-dramatic family, to the rock and mediator that held things together and tried to fix issues as they arose. The synopsis is right in saying that she discovered the essence of what it means to be a mother.
This memoirs shows the pursuit for happiness in the life of a flawed and struggling woman, who tries her best to do the best for those around her, and who has to learn how to become the role her grandmother played in the family before her.
I would also like to thank the author, Blaire Sharpe, for sending me a copy of her book to review. She wrote the sweetest note inside that made my day. So, thank you!