Tag Archives: nonfiction

Stand Your Ground by Joel Penton

Stand Your Ground

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you should know that this is definitely not the type of book that I usually read. But after the author, Joel Penton, spoke at my school, I decided to buy this book just because. The story itself is mostly a memoir of Joel Penton’s experience playing football at Ohio State, but there are also some other stories from his high school life thrown in. The rest of the book is about commitments: how to make them, how to keep them, etc.

I’ll try any kind of book once, and although I already had an idea that I wasn’t going to like this book, I had to try. To me, it was just disappointing. I wasn’t expecting over half of the book to be about good decision-making and commitments; I thought most of it would be his story, the one he told us at my school, which seemed like something I would want to read about. So, no, I didn’t like it. But I’m not going to say that it sucked, or anything like that, because it didn’t. It’s just not my thing.

I’m not sure how much longer I can make this review without it being super boring, so I’ll just end it here. I’ll have my next review of the full Divergent series up sometime soon, hopefully before Christmas, but if not, sometime before New Years. So, in case I don’t get to write before then, have a great Christmas!

-J

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Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland

Fall to Pieces

“I hate to say this, but, God– what have you sent me to love?”
-Mary Forsberg Weiland

Mary Forsberg Weiland, famous 90s model and ex-wife of Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland, has been to hell and back. She’s had her fair share of the tabloids’ distorted versions of the truth, and in her autobiography, she sets the record straight. Fall to Pieces is a walk through her modeling career, relationships, addiction, recovery, relapse, mental illness, and everything in between.

I absolutely adore this book, and I’ll tell you why. I first read it last year, when I needed a nonfiction book for a report for my freshman English class. I really wanted to read Girl, Interrupted, but since my parents had already bought me that book for Christmas and it was currently November, they brought Fall to Pieces home one day after shopping. I wasn’t a huge fan of Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver– I didn’t know many songs other than the big hits, like “Vasoline,” “Plush,” and “Fall to Pieces”– but I decided to give it a try anyway, considering the caption on the front of the book said it involved three of my favorite subjects to read about.

The book starts off with a memory of Mary’s first try at heroin, which automatically reeled me in. Unfortunately, it was just an attention-catching prologue, and I had to wait for page 72 before she even met Scott. Their relationship is heartbreaking, and although I really disliked Scott for the games he’d play with Mary, he eventually grew on me and came to be known as a really nice guy. Even while using heroin, he tried to protect Mary– when she first tried it at the very beginning of the book, he tried to stop her because he didn’t want her going down the same, dark path.

You may have heard the story, but you haven’t heard it like this: the truth, not over-exaggerated or glamorized. It’s not only great for fans of Scott Weiland’s bands or those who like it for its subject matter, though. It mentions encounters with various other celebrities as well: musicians like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols; actors and actresses like Robert Downey Jr. and Charlize Theron; and countless others. Fall to Pieces is dark and twisted, yet inspirational and beautiful in the aspect of recovery and always seeing the good in things, even when they don’t turn out the way you planned. Please, go out and buy this book– it won’t let you down.

-J

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Sickened by Julie Gregory (with Screamin’ Beans!)

Sickened

“Truth is whatever your mind believes.”
-Julie Gregory

Munchausen by proxy is one of the most extreme cases of abuse, but is also somewhat unheard of. Sickened gives a firsthand account of a young girl whose mother took her to numerous doctors with both inflicted and fabricated symptoms, begging for a solution. Complete with doctors’ reports, Julie’s story is both heartbreaking and fascinating, and sometimes even unbelievable.

After reading A Child Called “It” less than a month ago, I spent a lot of time comparing the two books while I was reading. Surprisingly, they’re pretty similar, but they’re also very different.

When I first picked up Sickened, I assumed the entire book would be about Munchausen by proxy. There are actually a number of different kinds of abuse, not only regarding one person, and not only inflicted by her mother. Although most of the abuse in A Child Called “It” was much worse than this, the abuse in this book surprised me much more, since Julie’s parents (mostly her mother, but her dad was sometimes involved) abused a number of people.

I know this is kind of a short review, but there’s not much else to say. Sickened is a surprising, twisted account of a nightmare of a childhood, and should be picked up by anyone who read  A Child Called “It”.

And, finally, since this is my 25th post and I’m pretty excited about being a fourth of the way to my goal, here’s a link to Screamin’ Beans. I won’t tell you what it is, other than that it’s interactive, hilarious, and you’ll probably want to wear headphones to play if you’re trying to be quiet. Enjoy! 🙂

-J

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The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer

The Lost Boy

“And as always, it’s my fault.”
-Dave Pelzer

This took me a while to read, on account of recovering from my sickness this past week, but The Lost Boy is still exceptional. In Dave Pelzer’s previous novel, A Child Called “It”, he recounted his experience of living with an abusive mother from ages four through twelve. In this installment, he remembers his rescue, trials, and foster homes from ages twelve through eighteen, the only exception being the first chapter and epilogue.

Though this book is less about his real family and more about his “temporary families”, the pain of his past experiences is still there. David gets into a bit of trouble during the first half of the book as he tries to gain acceptance from other students in his new school, though he’s not at all a bad kid. You can actually feel the goodness in him sometimes, and you can feel all of his emotions throughout the book, from excitement to sadness. And once again, I have to mention how amazed I am that he can relive all of these tragic and heartbreaking events. I know I’d never be able to do the same in his situtation.

A great sequel to A Child Called “It”, The Lost Boy should definitely be read if you’re curious about Dave Pelzer’s life afterward and how he struggles to cope with it all.

-J

(Note: Although I did borrow A Man Named Dave from my grandma to read, I don’t think I’ll be reading it after reading the first two. That book is mostly about forgiveness and adulthood, which I’m not too interested in. Be sure to check it out if you are interested in it, though, because Dave Pelzer is a great, detailed writer and surely won’t disappoint.)

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A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer

A Child Called 'It'

“It is important that the body survives, but it is more meaningful that the human spirit prevails.”
-Dave Pelzer

(Sorry for the late review. I finished this book on February 4th, but I’ve been sick all week and unable to get on my computer to post a review.)

A few of my friends read this book a couple of months ago, and after hearing their opinions on it I decided I wanted to read it too. I knew it was about child abuse and it may be difficult for me to read, but I could do it if they could. Then, about two weeks ago, I mentioned something about it to my mom while at my grandmother’s house, and my grandma mentioned that she had all three of Dave Pelzer’s books.

The first of Dave Pelzer’s trilogy is A Child Called “It”, which tells about his life from ages four through twelve.

I can’t even find the words to express my emotions toward this book. I find it absolutely incredible that after what this kid went through for close to eight years, he still has the strength to relive it all and write about it. It’s unbelievable how determined he was to keep fighting, without ever knowing how long he’d be trapped there or if he’d ever make it out alive.

Although it may be considered disturbing or disgusting, I believe everyone should read this book at one point in their lives. Everyone should know what goes on when nobody is paying attention, and what could even be happening to someone you know right now.

-J

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Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

This was a fairly quick read, less than 200 pages and only took me two days to finish, but that doesn’t make it any less incredible. Susanna Kaysen has a serious talent to make a memoir read through like fiction, and to not overly detail like most nonfiction authors do. Being a nonfiction book, there isn’t much of a plot to talk about, other than that Susanna Kaysen is living in the mentall illness ward of McLean Hospital after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and depression. The book tells about her stay in the hospital and the other girls that live there with her, and her struggles with coping with her mental illnesses.

I’d heard so many good things about this book before I started it, so I immediately had high expectations. Just as I predicted, Ms. Kaysen didn’t let me down: she delivered a rich, intriguing story that really shows you what it’s like to cope with numerous disorders. This, along with Mary Forsberg Weiland’s autobiography Fall to Pieces, is currently my favorite nonfiction book, and I’m sure to read it over and over again for years to come.

-J

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