Musical Chairs by Jen Knox
Blurb: Musical Chairs explores one family's history of mental health diagnoses and searches to define the cusp between a '90s working-class childhood and the trouble of adapting to a comfortable life in the suburbs. In order to understand her restlessness, Jennifer reflects on years of strip-dancing, alcoholism, and estrangement. Inspired by the least likely source, the family she left behind, Jennifer struggles towards reconciliation. This story is about identity, class, family ties, and the elusive nature of mental illness.
Review: This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It brought reality down to earth, and reminded me how blessed and safe and sheltered I am.
Jen’s story is not something that can really be summed up in a quick explanation, it is something that needs to be seen in the whole. Her story was absolutely addicting in a sad, scary, painful way, and it gave me a whole new respect for recovered alcoholics, ex-smokers, and those who have been through other awful situations like Jen has, such as rape, strip dancers, the homeless, and those shuffling from one job to another.
I rate it high for writing and prose (it’s always nice to read a novel by someone who knows how to write!), Jen told her story clearly and well. Obviously as it is a memoir I'm not going to say anything about the plot ;) however the pacing of the book was very good—i didn’t feel any dragging at all, at the same time it wasn’t too fast either. I would have given it five stars but it was a bit depressing at times, and sometimes I had to stop and take a break and read something sappy and lighthearted. (but that’s probably just me.)
The end of the story, where Jen’s life is turned around and she starts really living, is beautiful. I felt proud of her. I grew very connected to the people in her story, to the point that it almost felt that I knew them personally.
this book is not for people who want a light quick read—it’s the opposite. Musical Chairs is not a book to read if you’re trying to lift your spirits, but it’s not extremely depressing either. It makes you think, it makes you grateful, and it gives you hope.
Recommendation: Ages 16+ (for language and some sexual content.)