April 29, 2012
I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert
It's amazing what human beings can overcome. So many times life has a way of knocking you down and then not giving you the opportunity to pick yourself back up again. But as Jennifer Gilbert shows, sometimes you have to fight to get back up again and do it yourself; and it's entirely worth it when you do.
When Jennifer Gilbert is attacked, and brutally injured, her life seems to end for her. Friendships are different, her relationship with her family is different, and her outlook on life definitely changes. She throws herself into her work and realizes she is successful at it though. But in order to improve her life she has to work through what happened to her, and that part is a little harder. She also wants to find true love, keep up with her new business, and try to lead a more "normal" life, but it's hard after her attack. So many things now have a different perspective on them, but Jennifer develops a very good way of looking at life and a new philosophy that helps her get through. And we get this inspiring memoir as a result.
Jennifer is actually pretty harsh on herself I thought. She describes how cold and unfeeling or preoccupied she can be, and really, from her actions, I just don't think she was probably as bad as she considered herself. She obviously had lots of friends and people generally don't stick around if they don't like being around you; so in this case I think she's just being too modest. The other people she describes in the book are detailed very nicely. She doesn't criticize, just tells it matter of factly and most the people come out looking like good people. Which is refreshing in any type of book. And I liked how she described her husband-to-be through most of the book, he seems like a terrific guy.
This book had the capacity to be somewhat mundane and boring, but Gilbert is such a good story teller, that it really isn't for the most part. After the initial description of her attack, which in itself could be considered "exciting" and a main sequence of the book, the rest of the book details how she got through the next few years and built herself up. It described her ups and downs, the setbacks she had along the way, and the hard work she put into her business and her relationships. It was actually all very interesting. Honestly, I would have liked to have heard more about her business and some of her starting up years, because she was innovative, but perhaps this just isn't that type of a memoir.
In all this is a very inspirational book. If you think you've been through something tough, I say give it a shot. It might offer a few ideas on how to look at life a different way without discounting the fact that people go through tough times and it's ok not to compare it to anyone else's situation. And so I leave you with a quote from the book:
"You can't control what may happen to you in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens."
I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag