Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 8: Community Blog Post #5: Critique Two Memoirs

My Response to “Memoir: The Suicide Prevention Hotline” is:

            I think that you did a wonderful job on writing your memoir.  This memoir was very touching and informative to read as I learned a lot about your journey through a difficult time in your life.  It must have been very difficult to experience a setback in sending out college applications and not getting in to one of your top choices of colleges at the time.  However, I think you constructed this memoir very articulately and made your life experience and story very relatable to readers.

            For starters, your memoir has several strengths that make it a very genuine and easily relatable piece of writing.  I appreciate how you explained how frustrating it was for you to have to answer what seemed like an endless barrage of questions from relatives regarding the status of your college acceptance decisions.  The details you talked about from the time when you were at your cousin’s birthday party and everyone was asking you about your college plans, really helped me to understand where you were coming from and how overwhelming that must have been for you.  Needing to escape, find solace, and just be alone with your own thoughts for awhile was very clear to me and I very much can understand that.  

            When you went on to describe calling the suicide prevention hotline, this was also relatable because I can understand that you simply wanted somebody to just listen to you and to have someone that would truly care about your well-being in that moment.  Your point of just wanting to be heard and wanting to find a genuine person that cared, is made clear when you say, “I just wanted somebody to talk to, somebody who wasn’t going to ask me what my plans were or when I’d hear back.  I wanted to talk to somebody who cared about me, not where I would be getting my education.  Somebody who cared about my well being and whether or not I had genuinely smiled yet that day.”  This makes a lot of sense to me as I can see that you did not want to end your life, but rather you wanted to know that someone cared about your feelings in that moment.  Reaching out for help, even just to express yourself to another person who would truly listen, is very commendable because it showed that you knew what was best for yourself at the time and you used the proper coping mechanisms to reach out to others in a time of need.  

            From your memoir, I learned the importance of reaching out for a helping hand and using coping mechanisms to overcome stress and problems in life.  I like how you mention the aftermath of what you now have come to understand when you say, “Since then I have been using working out as a stress reliever, I find things that I am able to take control of and use them to my advantage –my eating habits, my schoolwork and grades.   I have found so much happiness in the sole ability to see the world out of a much brighter lens.  I have learned not to let the things I am unable to control take control of me.”  This has led me to learn even more from you and your memoir.  I agree that having positive coping techniques, such as developing a healthy diet and exercise regimen like you mention, can make the world of difference for your state-of-mind and overall well-being.  I have come away from reading your memoir with a much better understanding of the importance of developing positive coping tools and implementing them.  I also like how you talk about how your parents were very supportive and encouraging once they truly understood how deeply upset and hurt you were.  This reinforces to me just how significant having a strong support system and network of loved-ones behind you is.  I am very glad that, in the end, you had that support and were able to reach out to your family as well.

            As far as weaknesses, the only thing that I would suggest is that you could have maybe added a picture or two to demonstrate the extent of your feelings during this time.  Also, adding a link to a suicide prevention hotline or providing links to other useful sources that one could turn to for help (such as community or therapy groups), may have been of even more benefit to readers who needed that information.  However, this was not absolutely necessary as you did an amazing job as it is in conveying your emotions and life lessons to readers in a wonderfully articulate manner.  As a result, I feel that by conveying your newfound insight, you also provided readers with some valuable life lessons as well.

My Response to “Memoir: My Major Move” is:

            I enjoyed reading your memoir as it showed the importance of having a close relationship with the family members that have a strong, supportive presence in your life.  Despite growing up without a father, you demonstrate the significance, and what it meant to you, to maintain close family ties with your mother and sister.  As you went on to discuss your move from Los Angeles to Detroit at such a young age, you effectively convey the true meaning of family and you also touch on other key concepts that helped to make you into the person you are today.

            There are several different strengths and positive attributes that I feel your memoir contains.  For example, you effectively convey your feelings to readers as you express how difficult it was for you growing up without a father.  By explaining what it was like for you not having a male role model to look up to in your household and by expressing how your family felt different from other families that had a male head-of-household present, you help readers understand how this impacted your mind-frame.  When you say, “I felt that I was missing out on valuable moments with my father.  Knowing that my family was not what society would consider the norm made me feel different” this helps readers get the gist of how you felt and that you wished you could have the opportunity to develop special memories with your father.  This is relatable because many others can also understand what it is like to be a part of a broken home, or one with divorced or separated parents.  By explaining your life story in this regard, it allows others to find comfort in knowing that they are not alone, and that there are all different types of families out there.  However, you still convey your feelings and sense of longing for a male figure in your life, and those emotions are clear and articulated well to readers.

            Another one of the strengths to your memoir is that you explain what you learned from the experience of growing up without a father.  In describing how you realized to be independent and care for yourself without feeling the need to rely on a man, you effectively convey to readers how you grew from the experience.  I like when you say, “…I still find it hard to let a man to do things for me because my mother always showed me that I could do them on my own.”  This shows to me that despite growing up without a male figure in your life, you are able to turn that experience around and be there for yourself and build a self-reliant attitude.  The fact that you have become more independent as a result of this experience is great as you can take care of yourself and build your own future on your own terms.  

            After reading your memoir, I have learned a lot about the importance of striving to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible.  I appreciate how you convey this lesson to readers and incorporate having a strong level of self-sufficiency in your memoir.  I also learned the significance of remaining close with the family that you are fortunate enough to have in your life and building strong ties with those loved ones.  Sticking together through tough times, from at first living with other relatives, to your mother eventually getting your family your own place, was all conveyed well to readers.  The value of family was evident when you described how your mother and sister stood by your side and you all worked together to build a strong foundation for your family.  I also like the picture at the end of your memoir, and I think it is a nice touch as it illustrates a loving, supportive family very well.   

            As far as weaknesses, I would just say to watch some of the wording and grammar issues by conducting a more thorough proofreading.  For example, some missing words like when you say “When she left my father she was forced to raise two children her own” it should be “on her own” and “I was able to decorated the room anyway I wanted to because it was all mine” it should just be “decorate”.  Essentially, just re-read and double-check everything a little bit more and that would polish it up.  Otherwise, you have written a very good memoir that has taught me the importance of family bonds, developing a sense of independence when necessary, and having a positive attitude despite experiencing challenges.

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