This short, profound memoir is an honest and candid account of a young woman’s recollection of coming of age, against a culture backdrop of lacking direction and recreational drug use. To the despair of her parents, as a troublesome teen, Kathy Varner has no plans other than to hang out, get high and see her favourite live bands. The book is very matter-of-fact, with a punchy narrative, as Kathy describes how she simply allowed life to happen to her, whilst not knowing how and when to say no – “okay” and “why not” were her default responses to any situation on offer. As is often the case, the neutral observer will find themselves wondering if she was having quite as much fun at the time as she convinced herself she was as, overall, an undercurrent of imminent sadness – and increasingly – imminent tragedy runs throughout the book, particularly picking up and manifesting in the second half. This sadness, perhaps inevitably, eventually becomes the focal point of her memoir. Although starting her tale with apathy, by the end, fuelled by her incredibly upsetting job, and by personal loss, Kathy’s heart is well and truly on her sleeve. By now mature and emotionally decimated, Kathy (like all of us) looks back on her foolhardy youth with regret and remorse.
A melancholy and sad book, from an author who is adeptly exercising her own writing therapy. She writes it well, and you feel her pain, projecting it onto your own life experiences. Don’t expect the high-jinks and flippancy that the title of this book perhaps suggests – Wacky on the Junk is to be read privately, in a quiet, poignant setting. To say I “enjoyed” reading it would perhaps be an inappropriate choice of phrasing, but it is a good, engrossing book, for those who would prefer to be enveloped in something far more real and down to Earth than many.
Kathy ends on a slightly educational note, and it is good to see that after the wrenching and often self-inflicted heartache she has suffered, she has manged to find a healthy diet which works for her holistically – physically, mentally and emotionally; her new medication. By this point, the book, at the very least, can serve therefore as an inspiring self-help suggestion, for those who may worry that getting involved in the use of recreational drugs and upsetting the parents is an irredeemable lapse. To the contrary, Kathy shows just how positively one can turn a seemingly hopeless life around, and become a more complete person, by pure depth of character, or simply growing up and seeing the error of one’s ways. Thought-provoking and reflective, it shows that simple humility and growth can help one face up to the foolish behaviour of their youth, with well-deserved self-atonement.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: kathy-varner memoir autobiography memoir real-life drug-abuse