From the House by the Seashore by Pati Adams

From the House by the Seashore

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An unflinching, life-spanning memoir of transformation after rocky beginnings.

In her nonfiction debut, Adams presents an ambitious review of her entire life. Starting from her 1950s childhood in a seaside Connecticut town, Adams recounts a common fantasy: “I had many hopes and dreams of becoming someone beautiful and that someday my prince would ride up on his white horse.” The rest of the book concerns the various ways that that youthful dream does and doesn’t come true, with a focus on the author’s shifting understanding of the world’s complexities and the meaning of living well. The initial chapters detail Adams’ early experiments with drugs and delinquency, as well as her tumultuous marriage and struggles with motherhood. Later on, the loosely structured narrative transitions into an account of the author’s midlife commitment to born-again Christianity and its transformative effect on her life. Throughout, Adams confronts her life with candor and painstaking attention to detail. All that detail sometimes feels extraneous—readers will unlikely be interested in the particulars of Adams’s workplace spats or real -estate transactions—but the author’s commitment to honesty is also moving. Readers who have faced similar challenges may find hope in her account of success after struggles. In the book’s final act, Adams describes how she has devoted her professional life to working at anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. While Adams’ uncompromising support of conservative Christian values is likely problematic for those on the opposite side of the politically charged abortion debate, those who share her beliefs may by inspired by her work. Overall, the author’s story reads more like a journal than a memoir; it’s heavy on minutiae and light on substantive analyseis of the events. The writing is also vague and uninventive at times, as when Adams repeatedly describes babies as “bundles of joy” and “smelling of baby powder.” Still, she often succeeds in drawing out the universal challenges within her personal experiences, making her story potentially meaningful to anyone trying to reconcile childhood fantasy with adult realities.

An impressively candid confessional about a woman’s spiritual struggles that lacks in-depth reflection.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4908-8533-9
Page count: 302pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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