A Brooklyn-based HR professional reflects upon divorce, motherhood, advice from elders, and more in this debut personal essay collection.
Thomas considers the years following her divorce to have been particularly formative, with her “struggles and triumphs” raising her daughter as well as the deaths of a beloved grandfather and uncle contributing to her finding “pleasant release and satisfaction in writing.” This essay collection draws on stories originally posted on her personal blog—“when transferred to paper, the stories took on a life of their own,” she says—to provide “snippets from scenes in my life that have been impactful and purposeful.” The vignettes are generally a page or two in length, and even less than a page on occasion. She organizes her stories into six categories. The first section, “Looking Glass: Life Review & Reflection,” includes how bringing too much baggage on a trip made Thomas realize “how heavy and overpacked my ‘mental suitcase’ is.” Advice from elders—i.e., father, grandmother, and mother—generally emphasizes trust and faith in God, while her parenting memories include how dealing with her daughter’s hair took Thomas “full circle” to taming her own “kinky curls.” Death, featuring a poignant memory of her uncle’s pride in having a clean car, makes an appearance, as do relationships, with her “Fading Love” essay including a personal poem. A catchall “Ever Wonder” section concludes by Thomas marveling at the “interview” she and her daughter had with the latter’s smartphone. Thomas, in her debut, brings appealing honesty to this quick-sketch tour of her life journey, as when she admits to having been “too young and immature” to handle the challenges of her marriage. Her vignettes vary in impact and interest; her complaints about a hotel’s customer service, for example, come off as cranky rather than insightful. Still, most of the brief essays offer some food for thought as well as memorable imagery and observances, such as how her sweating on a New York City subway platform caused her to think of God “and how he sends bursts of cool air to cool our frustration.”
A promising debut brimming with musings and lovely impressionistic detail.