The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

An excerpt from the Goodreads description: Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family.

It’s rare that I read a memoir so quickly, and rare that I’m emotionally affected by the narrator’s life. The Body Papers by Grace Talusan hit both.

The pacing was brisk, the images vivid. Grace Talusan connects us with her story and what it was like to grow up in one of two Filipino families in a small town in Massachusetts. We travel back to the Philippines with Grace when she’s an adult and see the country through her eyes. This book was better and more vivid than any movie.

She also shares her childhood trauma with us in a way that is relatable and poignant.

Recommended. 5/5 stars.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Scary Close by Donald Miller

From Goodreads: After decades of failed relationships and painful drama, Donald Miller decided he’d had enough. Impressing people wasn’t helping him connect with anyone. He’d built a life of public isolation, yet he dreamed of meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost.

I picked up Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy, not for the title, but for the structure, as it was recommended for its structure by a memoir / non-fiction writing teacher.

The structure was good and made for an extremely easy read.

I note others have criticized this book for its name-dropping. In some respects I’d have to agree. The author tells us about a whole lot of other people’s advice. And he does attribute the advice accordingly. So, there is a bit of namedropping. It didn’t bother me too much, as the names weren’t familiar to me. I enjoyed the snippets.


“Remarkably, the most common regret of the dying was this: they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.”

Donald Miller, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy

Overall, there are many tidbits and takeaways that I gathered from this book. It was nice, as I was not expecting anything but an idea of how to structure an eminently readable teaching memoir. And I did find that, plus some relationship wisdom along the way.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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