I suppose I give it away - the fact that I enjoy reading - by the fact that when people see me, I've always got my nose in a book. So it was when we were visiting our favourite South Coast lunchtime haunt, the whole family with books (for after brunch, of course) and the friendly manageress, who amazes us with her memory for every intricate order, told me about this one.
"The author's an old school friend," she explained, "and she had an interesting, tough childhood." That's pretty much all I had - which is what I like, actually.
There is a knack to writing a memoir which involves emotional distance, realising that your story is not as interesting as you think it is for others - it helps if you write it well, and developing a plot that will draw people in. This has all that.
'I was made in Coffee Bay. Right there on the beach, in the sand' is how it begins.
'Suzan is adopted as a newborn in the late 1960s into a seemingly loving and welcoming family living in Pietermaritzburg. But Suzan is set on a collision course with, most particularly, her adoptive mother, from her very beginning.'
Her writing style flows from her heart, and packs an emotional punch that I didn't see coming - partly because it is quite matter-of-fact, whilst describing harrowing circumstances no thirteen year old should have to endure. Suzan is a strong person, she's had to be, and so is her writing. She finds herself in and out of different institutions, on the run and encountering many different forms of "care" - most of which land up being abusive. That she tells it with a witty sense of humour gives us a clue as to her survival instincts.
My only gripe is its abrupt end. I suspect there's a sequel to come. I hope so. I'll read it. This is a unique voice, that I'd love to hear more from.
You may also enjoy other memoirs - Karma, Deception and a pair of Red Ferraris by Elaine Taylor, or Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, or Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.