Confessions of Joan the Tall: A Memoir (Notable Voices) ~Joan Cusack Handler
At first glance when this book arrived, I thought CONFESSIONS OF JOAN THE TALL was a young adult book maybe even a middler’s read, and I confess I was wrong. This story is a delightful read at nearly any age as it provokes memories for some and lets others know they are wearing similar shoes. It is delightful, witty and a shining pathway to bring us all home to a level play ground, or in Joan’s case the opportunity equalizer of a swim.
CONFESSIONS OF JOAN THE TALL is the first book in a new library of books being offered by CavanKerry Press. In their own words: “In keeping with our thematic emphasis for all of our books on Lives Brought to Life, CavanKerry Press is proud to announce the addition of Memoir to our publishing program. Confessions of Joan the Tall is the inaugural volume on Cavan Kerry’s Memoir List.”
So gather up your thoughts of what it might be like to be an eleven year old girl in the 1950s and you are the third child in a family of four born to parents who are Irish immigrants, very dutifully practicing Roman Catholics, making new lives and learning the American Way! If that was not enough for you to contemplate and mull over add in two older siblings who are turning into “teenagers” when they had been best friends, Mom needing to go back to work and then of course dealing with size 13 shoes and being FIVE FEET 11and ½ inches tall in sixth grade.
Handler has remembered all the details and put them to work in a clever fashion as Joan the Tall is figuring out the puzzles of life and finding a new order. At the age of 10-12 most young folks are just starting to understand the timely issues of history and perspective in their intellectual development. Joan realizes that her father’s huge commitment to his faith and church may not actually be her commitment to faith and church. She begins to understand that her brother is being prepared to be the family Priest and she is being prepared to be a Nun. They share a rebellion but take different pathways of expression.
Joan’s mother handles the teasing and name calling by purchasing and making Joan’s clothing and getting her lovely and adult things of great quality to wear. They are expensive clothes and stylish, but they are not pretty pink and frilly like the other girls wear. Thank goodness for school uniforms and keeping a journal to write all the feelings down and be allowing a girl to ruminate and process.
There are so many moments in this memoir that a person can identify with and ease out a memory or two relive and let it go. Although not a Catholic, I could feel the desperate need for answers and rules from my faith which would release the worry through this transitional age, I too was driven crazy that I could not believe what I was being told was what I must believe by my community; oh how I wished I could. I was a child of Immigrant parents and considered an interloper in the community. I too escaped and learned from the many books that I read and still love to read now. I learned early on not to keep a journal at home, because my siblings would have spread it all over school and encouraged the laughter even though we had the same rule about keeping what went on at home, at home.
I was impressed with the chapters where Joan began to see her parents as human beings, particularly her understanding of her mother’s skills and “meanness”. They did not have all the answers and were living in a new country. They offered their best to each of their children and gave them huge opportunities through their decisions. This year in the life is well shared with a tear and a chuckle and you may recognize your own moments of change reading CONFESSIONS OF JOAN THE TALL.
I did receive a copy of this book from TLC online tours and CavanKerry Press in order to share this review. Thank you for the opportunity.
Would you please consider sharing this review on your social media sites?