I like memoirs, we know this. I also think that everyone has the right to a memoir, as long as you can tell a good story and you know which stories to pull. I was so excited to read Robert and Jane Rave’s mother-son memoir about Robert coming out to his mother in a letter. That letter is the first chapter and what follows is a series of vignettes by Robert, all followed by a short reaction written by Jane titled “Mama Says.” The love and interaction between Robert and Jane is evident and I loved that his parents were totally okay with him being gay. The point of this memoir is that it is not really a coming out story; it’s the story of how a mother and son grew to be better friends because Robert, and therefore Jane, accepted who he really was. In that sense, Robert and Jane are really adorable. They clearly love each other and their family is so strong, so I loved reading about that part of their life. I loved seeing Jane stand up for her son in the face of discrimination in their small town. I loved that Robert truly cared what his mother thought of him.
Unfortunately, I really didn’t love everything in this memoir. The biggest issue I had with it is that it seems dated. Much of the “action” of the memoir takes place in the late 90s, but he was clearly writing it now. With words like “tranny” and “cyber geek,” it was just a little difficult to take seriously. This is 2011, we don’t say things like that anymore, even if you did in 1998. The majority of the memoir talks about things like waxing, going on horrible dates with horrible men, good friends and bad friends, some of whom are nameless celebrities. If it reads like some kind of chick lit novel or memoir, you’re right. Unfortunately, I don’t like those stories when they’re penned by women, so it stands that I wouldn’t really like them when they’re penned by a man.
I guess this is another case of the book not meeting my own expectations. I think the book could have been organized a little better and been less cheesy, but at the same time, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy this book. And I know there were parts I really liked. I liked Jane. She’s not a writer, as Robert mentions towards the end of the novel, but I really liked many of the things she had to say. There were times when I cringed at things both Robert and Jane said, but I think for the most part they presented their relationship well. It’s a loving, beautiful relationship and I am glad they decided to share it with the world, even if I didn’t love reading about it the entire time.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me this book to review. You can read more about this tour, including past and future tour dates, here.