Better Than Chicken Soup: Love Is Vitamin L For The Soul by Jack Wedam

Better Than Chicken Soup: Love Is Vitamin L For The Soul

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A son recalls in anguishing detail the physical and emotional damage inflicted by his mother as well as the healing he finds.

Wedam’s memoir gets off to a dramatic start when he says of his mother, Wanda, “I only recall her shooting at my dad twice.” A “whore” who prostituted herself and squandered family money on booze, clothes and jewelry, she blamed him and his siblings for ruining her body and life. As a boy, a hungry Wedam scavenged the livestock feed for bits of corn to eat; the family cat removed the mice. Wedam devotes pages to his beatings, when he steeled himself against the pain by telling his mother, “That does not hurt.” As if Mommie Dearest weren’t terror enough, Wedam writes of the time “Uncle Johnny tried to offer me as a human sacrifice.” Fortunately, Uncle Johnny gets institutionalized. Only as youngest-child Wedam graduated from high school did dad finally grow a pair and divorce this monstrous woman—but she wasn’t through inflicting damage. When Wedam and a sister returned home for clothes, she drove after them in her Thunderbird. Eventually, some redemption appears, if briefly. When Wedam is in veterinary school, his mom comes to visit, bringing him a handmade afghan. He hears she became a Christian and was diagnosed with cancer. Alas, Wedam—and readers—know too much to sympathize with her. He later realizes he’s suffering from the “sin of bitterness”—yet it’s a miracle he’s survived. Wedam wraps things up too quickly after all he discloses, and questions remain unanswered. Was Wanda’s repentance genuine? How is Wedam today? Why did dad get a pass all those years? The book sometimes reads like a rambling, stream-of-consciousness journal entry: Words are omitted, and typos are frequent. At times, the author also resorts to clichés: “meaner than a rattlesnake” and “storm clouds gathering”—words that don’t convey the bleakness of his story. Wedam’s candor and strength are admirable, but there’s little takeaway for the reader.

A disturbing case study that isn’t revealing enough.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1625100597
Page count: 204pp
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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