Bookish Witch

This Telling by Cheryl Strayed

Blurb (as on Amazon):

A genealogy test sparks a woman’s reflection on the two accounts of her life—the real one and the one she’s always told the world—in this poignant short story by Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling author of Wild.

In 1964 teenage Geraldine Waters was sent away by her parents to an unwed mothers’ home, where she gave up her newborn for adoption. Ever since, she’s lived an alternative narrative. Decades later, it’s time for Geraldine to reconcile the telling of her life, to finally grieve, and to discover what happened to that part of her past that slipped away.

Cheryl Strayed’s This Telling is part of Out of Line, an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

Genre: Fiction/Short Story

Pages: 34

Format: Kindle eBook:

Price: 69 INR/$1.99

My Rating: 4/5

Geraldine Waters becomes a teenage mother in 1964. Her parents asked to give up her newborn within a few days of her birth. Years later, the daughter of this child contacts her, making her face some facts and leading to the revelation of an identity she had carefully hidden from so many years.

What I liked about the book:

-> It is wonderful literature unfolding what we like to be and what life actually is.
-> The letter from the granddaughter and the ending are the best parts of the story.
-> You feel as if you’re experiencing the journey with the character. A beautiful telling of such a difficult topic.
-> It’s a different perspective and a view into a life, a family, that lets the reader see an endless hallway of open doors.
-> The weaving of a compelling story with intricate details of life into a telling of a “good girl” whose choices usually result in obedience, compliance, and family pride.

What I did not like about the book:

-> At many points, it felt like a checklist of feminist/PC issues, with weakly-drawn characters, and stereotypes.

Quotable quotes:

-> She’d kept the secret sealed so tightly inside her for so long it could not be extracted without altering who she was. The secret was not separate from her. In the telling of it, she’d come undone.
-> Sometimes it can shock you, the things that would come to you if you let them.
-> Her name was a jagged stone that had been worn smooth inside her. Her existence
an ancient pulse that only she could detect.
-> It was a lie that had turned into its opposite: the truth around which she’d built her life.
-> It wasn’t that she didn’t want to find love. It was that she felt dead to it now and also afraid of what it might lead to.

-> She looked at her parents, clear-eyed and astonished like she understood who she was for the very first time. A prisoner of her own body.
-> “It’s the Spanish word for ‘pretty’, like you”, he said and came over and took her hands, like he possibly loved her.
She was young enough to be grateful for that.
-> “I’m sorry”, she said and reached over and squeezed his leg. She couldn’t help but think that she’d ruined his life.
It didn’t occur to her to wonder about having ruined her own.

Check out the book here:

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