Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: My Year with Eleanor

You may have noticed that I sometimes say I'm reading one book and then do a book review on another, even though that other book is not on my read books page. Yeah, that's because sometimes I like to read more than one book at a time. And, sometimes I get bored with a book and want to read another one. And sometimes I get to a slow point in book A and book B just jumps out at me from somewhere. The latter is EXACTLY what happened with My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.

{(photo credit)}

Imagine: you're earning a three-figure salary, are on vacation, and the world is your oyster; then you get laid off. You could cry, yell, be upset {(and who would blame you?)}; or you could face some of your fears and have a wonderful adventure. That's exactly what Noelle did. In the course of a year, she flew a fighter jet, went skydiving, did stand-up comedy, dove with sharks, took stripper lessons, and ran naked down her hallway several times. And these are just the things she wrote about.

What I really love, though, is that Noelle not only recounts her adventures, but how she dealt with them.  She narrates her sessions with her therapist, and how he teaches her about human nature and fear response. This is pretty powerful;  I'm a big believer in confronting your fears and being honest with yourself. The author captures this idea with her easy prose and shares her experiences with her audience in a masterful way. She is clearly a writer who knows how to tell a story; it is rare that I find myself so engrossed in someone else's personal story in the way that I was engrossed in Noelle's. I can see myself in her shoes, and how she negotiates hard situations. I know that rush she gets because I get the same one.

In addition to her own story, Noelle tells the story of Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her memoir. At the beginning we review why she is doing what she is doing: Eleanor said that we should do one thing everyday which scares us. Instead of leaving it there, the author elaborates, describes the journey that was Eleanor's life. We learn of hers and Franklin's courtship, of his infidelity, of Eleanor's opinions of some minorities and her later change regarding those opinions. Noelle is candid and explores how she feels about these revelations which makes her seem practical and grounded, and as if anyone could go on the journey she has.

This is a fast read, but one which is satisfying. You will not regret the money spent on this memoir, nor on the time it takes to read it. Even if you cannot see yourself trying some of these things, or taking the journey Noelle has, the book still offers fascinating insights into human nature and encouragement to do that which is hard and challenging.

This is a quick read that is meaningful, inspirational and hysterical.I highly recommend this book!

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