If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir

If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir
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Bittersweet and wryly funny. She layers her experiences so aptly -- a blackface ewe that has fallen to its death juxtaposed with her father falling down a staircase to his own demise -- and her refreshing style makes the essays meld together with grace and fluidity.

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At the crux is unconditional love for both family and self, and underneath that, the tenacious will to prevail. Gradual revelation and occasional surprise make these essays fresh and startling. Nelson bravely forges her own voice in these complex essays In language that often reads more like poetry than prose, Nelson details her father's alcoholism, her mother's attempts to hold the family together, and her brother's eventual descent into drugs and mental illness For much of the book, Nelson can't seem to escape the orbit of her family's dysfunction, but by the end she is ensconced in Vermont with a boyfriend, attempting to forge a life of her own away from "the theater of my brother's addiction.

Each episode in this carefully crafted series of essays illuminates another moment of inertia or determination in the shaky journey Nelson took toward independence and stability. The best essays unfold like scenes in an indie flick, with the bad motels and boardwalks so accurately rendered.

Excerpt from Winooski author's memoir

Nelson presents clearly the frustrations of loving people who are just no good for you. The little girl who pictured her dad checking into jail as if he were checking into a hotel grew up to be a woman who could walk on all sorts of thin ice and survive to tell the stories about it.

We're fortunate she chose to share the stories. Her story is oftentimes a dark one, but Nelson holds strong, knowing that saving those we love may first begin, and end, with saving ourselves. A remarkable debut by a wonderfully talented writer. What a great reading experience. Jessica Nelson is a genius at composing the perfect duet between autobiographical resonance and wholly inventive incident.

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The city of Philadelphia itself is a shady character here --but mainly this is an indispensable tale of family dysfunction and redemption. It's like being read to by an excitable, melancholy, and vivid storyteller extraordinaire. Jessica Hendry Nelson has remade autobiography into an unforgettable kaleidoscope where what seems broken is really, and astonishingly, precisely the thing holding your heart together.

So you can keep going. So you know what love is. You will never say "family" the same way again. It is chaotic, digressive, and imperfect.

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If Only You People Could Follow Directions is a spellbinding debut by Jessica In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reimagined the memoir with her. If Only You People Could Follow Directions is a spellbinding debut by Jessica Hendry Nelson. In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reimagined the.

While most memoirs force life into the restrictions of straight lines, Nelson embraces the chaos by moving back and forth in time, free associating among memories, and organizing her life into a series of essays. What could be just another memoir of a family disintegrated by substance abuse becomes a vibrant and challenging exploration of abuse, obsession, coping, family, friendship, and self-discovery.

It's a book for anyone who has ever been young and trying to find themselves - which is to say, it's a book for everyone. Nelson's punch-you-in-the-heart prose is incandescently beautiful. This works in her favor, as she eschews over-the-top bravado for the facts of life.

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The book is, heartbreakingly, a book about family--about the power of substance abuse, self-destruction, grief, and remorse to tear away at every connection human beings share. Nelson is a writer to watch, not just for her sure-footed prose and her adept storytelling ability, but also because she survived a family defined by addiction and psychological destruction.

Nelson grew up as the daughter of an alcoholic father and a mother who varied between best friend and neglectful parent. Her brother Eric is also an addict and suffers from bipolar disorder. It is no surprise that she and many of her closest friends had plenty of exposure to drugs, alcohol, and destructive behaviors during her formative years. Her survival is a story in and of itself, but it is her writing that is the true standout in this memoir. Currently, she is the senior nonfiction editor of The Fiddleback , a literary journal, and lives in Colchester, Vermont.

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In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reimagined the memoir with her thoroughly original voice, fearless writing, and hypnotic storytelling. At its center, the book is the story of three people: Nelson's mother Susan, her brother Eric, and Jessica herself. These three characters are deeply bound to one another, not just by the usual ties of blood and family, but also by a mother's drive to keep her children safe in the midst of chaos.

The book begins with Nelson's childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia and chronicles her father's addiction and death, her brother's battle with drugs and mental illness, her own efforts to find and maintain stability, and her mother's exquisite power, grief, and self-destruction in the face of such a complicated family dynamic.

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I only people could follow directions! Jessica Hendry Nelson is a smart and sharp writer. Regardless your theme, if it touches on any of those wants and fears, readers will identify. What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. Want to save this guide to read, save, or print whenever you wish?

Each chapter in the book contends with a different relationship--friends, lovers, and strangers are all play--but at its heart the book is about family, the ties that bind and enrich and betray us, and how one young woman sought to survive and rise above her surroundings. Read more Read less. Review "A quirkily mesmerizing debut memoir about a dysfunctional family wracked by alcoholism and drug addiction. No customer reviews.

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