Author: Cheryl Rice
I was thrilled the day TLC Book Tours contacted me to be a book tour host. The first book they offered me was Cheryl Rice’s Where Have I Been All My Life? and being quite intrigued by the synopsis of Rice’s memoir, I quickly agreed to review it.
Where Have I Been All My Life? is the story of Rice’s dealing with grief after her mother’s death and how this harrowing life event served as the catalyst for change. Throughout the memoir, Rice invites the reader into her struggles as she trudges through grief and bumbles through the process of self-acceptance. Always concerned with the wants and needs of her mother, Rice now finds herself foundering without a crutch and thus moves toward understanding herself and becoming her own person.
Now, because I tend toward literary fiction and nonfiction that seeks to illuminate some universal theme, I must say that no one does grief like Joan Didion, but Rice, in her own way, provides her reader with great insight into the process of transformation. The only criticism I have is that Rice might have trusted her reader (and her own writing ability) a little more. I say this because her polished, well done use of description speaks for her emotions. She would often describe a scene and then proceed to tell the reader why she felt the way she did, which at times became redundant. After all, she spent nearly 3 pages explaining why she couldn’t make eye contact with her therapist, but because she had described herself and her state of mind so well on previous pages, the reader would have been able to pick up on the reasoning behind these non-verbal queues without the extra explanation.
I’m a bit obsessive about these small matters, which might matter not to other readers, and overall, I did enjoy this book. So back to what made it a great read…
First and foremost, Where Have I Been All My Life? is filled with rich description that invites the reader to experience each scene as though he or she is there (kudos for showing and not telling in these instances). The subject matter—intense grief, self-examination, change—lends to great connection between the material at hand the the reader. Though I’ve not lost someone as close to me as a parent (yet), I have been through the process of redefining and coming to terms with my own wholeness.
I commend Rice for her ability to relay this process of finding oneself in all its messy, haphazard, disorderly glory. The grief process and the journey to one’s true self are not as cut and dry as they are portrayed in the bright self-help books that line shelves at the local bookstore. The process is sometimes gruesome, sometimes suffocating, and Rice does well in articulating her own personal endeavor with such issues.
Where Have I Been All My Life is truly the modern woman’s struggle, and triumph, through tender matters that have in some way affected each of us. I recommend this read to anyone who has struggled with grief or self-esteem.
About the Author- Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl online at www.YourVoiceYourVision.com.