Trust Rylant to bring extraordinary insight to her own life. In this brief autobiography, she not only relates the important incidents of her first two decades and reveals the sources of her art, but also tells a compelling story. It was a tough childhood. Her mother left her alcoholic father, then left Cynthia with grandparents for four years while she studied nursing. Money was scarce, there was no library available, and Cynthia was a child who made herself into the ""kind of person [who] would fit in best""--presumably requiring the squelching of some talent, if not wit. Still, as she explains in a narrative peppered with wise, rueful comments, she thrived in spite of anxieties that survive to adulthood. For eight years her father's fate was a mystery. ""Children always imagine the worst. . .When I was grown up I had to learn. . .how to be honest. . .and how to find out the truth instead of always guessing at it."" Here, she is refreshingly, ingenuously honest, even including the earthy details of dealing with a maturing body and providing an enchanting chapter on kissing a series of boys (all of them before she was 13). She encountered God, was saved, and later learned to question; a taste of culture made her want ""to be someone else. . .the worst curse and best gift of my life."" She worshipped the Beatles, from afar (thus ""Album""--containing both photos and quotes from their lyrics). Pungent and poignant, funny and direct: a disarmingly candid, delightful self-portrait.