I finished Jen Knox’s Musical Chairs, published by All Things That Matter Press, this last Sunday while on vacation, and visiting my wife’s daughter in Kettle Falls, Washington. The book about her young life, mostly in the tough neighborhoods of inner city Columbus was a bold contrast to my location in the middle of a rather serene and beautiful setting on an organic vegetable farm and fruit orchard at the end of a quiet rural neighborhood street. I enjoyed it very much.
The following is the review i wrote for goodreads.com
Jen Knox’s memoir of her youth and coming of age is a fine study of a restless young lady scrambling to find her way in an urban culture that is at a loss to find its way. Like a virtual world in a place where all the characters are displaced and the object of the game is unknown, the story of Jen’s world opens up to us, consistent in its honesty – sometimes brutal in the telling.
How is she able to tell these stories, these anecdotes about her family, her friends so openly? That was my thought process as I read. As she struggles to come to terms with herself, will she not further alienate others by this process of tell all? It seems not. Amazing what a clearing of the air can accomplish, especially when the one doing the clearing takes the greatest share of responsibility for her own self-destructive behavior.
Musical Chairs is entertaining, no doubt and that’s an accomplishment in itself for a young author and a first book. But there’s more. There are lessons in facing one’s fears and in telling one’s story straight up without resorting to glitz and glamour. However, I think the strong suit of the book, the most obvious strength of the writer in this gritty self-portrait, is the portrayal of determination, the will to improve her lot.
So, best wishes to you Jen. May you continue to use your pen, your computer, your voice and your wits to tell your stories. Because I don’t think they will be your stories alone.