Lynette (San Antonio TX)
Something Like Beautiful
Over all I found Asha Bandeles Something Like Beautiful to be an engrossing story. I liked reading about what happened to her, and how these events made her feel; I sympathized 98% with the author, even as I wished she had made other choices; and I loved meeting her precious, precocious daughter. The message was uplifting as the book ended, and I can imagine this work will be a boon to other single parents, especially women.
Although the author never made the point in so many words that children of single parents are often, of necessity, more mature than other kids of their ages, I do believe this to be true. The relationship this mother and daughter have is truly a beautiful thing, and I think Bandele fails to give herself enough credit for this fact. On the other hand, one wonders about down the road, how difficult it may be for them to separate in the normal, healthy way of all kids and their mothers. Its a poignant fact of life for just such families that growing up to be independent may be more problematic for children like Bandeles daughter and for the parents, also, that cleaving may be particularly painful. In other words, I believe this book is an important sociological portrait, given the prevalence of single mothers.
I have only one reservation about Something Like Beautiful, which may not even be fair, considering that the book I read was not the final edition. And this is that, despite the fact that Bandele has won awards as an author, I found her language to be vague and/or ambiguous in numerous places. I am not talking about typos or repetitions of words, or misspellings. Instead I found pronouns whose antecedents were not clear, or sentences such as the following, which I found by opening the book at random: ... we revealed ourselves to ourselves wholly ... rather than ... we revealed ourselves to each other wholly ... and instead of After five years ... we did what most people who are in love are want -- and able -- to do, I certainly hope she meant to say are wont ... to do. OK, the latter may have been an editorial error, but there were many, many sentences that I had to read several times in order to find the meaning in them. Heres an example of an awkward sentence (the last one): You can still make it out,... but you have to squint. And even then, blurs. Does she mean, And even then it blurs or And even then, you see a blur? Sometimes I chalked up the ambiguity to her being a poet, but I usually enjoy reading the prose of poets, so maybe its just that the work is still in need of a firm editorial hand. (I suppose that editing ones own writing is different from editing that of another, since the author has also worked as an editor.)
Despite the foregoing paragraph, I found Something Like Beautiful, by Asha Bandele, to be well worth the reading.