I’m not normally a fan of misery memoirs. I read them anyway, partly because at some point I’d like to write some kind of research paper about them: how they differ from novels, or from “normal” autobiographies, or similar.
Anyway, I found a copy of Fragile lying on the street and decided to give it a go, as I’ve pretty much exhausted my own book collection and am waiting for payday before I rush out and do another bulk buy at my local charity shop.
Review after the jump
The blurb reads like a misery memoir:
What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously. Where does your darkest fear lie? The one that knots your guy; that you push from your mind with a prayer and a shudder. Probably your loved ones feature; your partner, parents, friends. Or, more likely, your children… This is the story of an ordinary woman plunged into chaos.
See what I mean? I thought it’d be one of those books where you end up feeling a horrible creeping sadness all the way through, where you reach the end and want to curl up in a ball under the bed and never come out as you realise the weight of the worlds that some people live in.
It’s not like that, though. Yes, some really awful things have happened to Niki Shisler, but some great things have happened too, and she’s refreshingly un-self-pitying (is that a word?) about everything. It’s not so much that she sees the good in every situation; it’s that she sees that most situations are good, really, if you look below the surface.
Even the truly horrific chapter, the one that would have had me sobbing like a girl if I had any semblance of a heart, was written with the right level of tact and openness to make it feel like you could see into Niki’s world, without her wanting to overwhelm the reader with it.
Perhaps it’s because, as she points out towards the beginning of the book, she’s a writer by trade. She’s not someone using a ghost writer, hoping to get her story out; she’s just taking what she knows and expressing it in the way she knows best.
Definitely worth a read.