A debut memoir by a former professor that doesn’t gloss over painful moments in her life.
Roberts begins by recounting the challenges she faced when she lost and regained her vision—not once, but twice, due to corneal edema and transplants. But as remarkable as those struggles are, they’re not the book’s focus; instead, as suggested by the title, they’re merely the source of a metaphor that ties her story together. There’s so much more about her life to be found in this volume, which mostly consists of prose, alongside a few poems, as well as a one-act play. Italicized text before each section provides helpful background information and effectively communicates its themes. After the introduction, the author turns back the clock to reveal what she sees as the miraculous circumstances surrounding her own adoption at the age of 6 months. She writes wistfully of a childhood marked by the death of her mother, a problematic relationship with her stepmother, and her own serious health issues. She connects these darker themes to her continual self-questioning even in the face of later success as a communications professor at Ohio Northern University. Regarding her anxiety over a play she produced, for example, she writes: “The doubt was, and still is, there like an anvil I think I will drag forever.” Over the course of her career, which she calculates involved “listening to 63,820 presentations over thirty-six years,” she recalls notable achievements with competitive speech teams as well as “Readers Theater” productions. She also includes absolutely lovely moments with her paternal grandparents, her dissertation adviser, and a lifelong friend from her days in a Catholic boarding school, in a chapter titled “The Book of Cecilia.” There are also moving tributes to a lamb named Soda Pop, a donkey named Skeeter, and a cat named Pipkin. Her “Letters to Pipkin,” written after the death of her companion of 19 years, are sure to affect anyone who has ever lost a pet.
Several exquisitely told tales that will touch even the most hard-nosed readers.