I am not a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd's, but picked up a copy of Traveling With Pomegranates anyway. I liked the premise of a shared mother-daughter memoir and thought that perhaps my mother and I, or my daughter and I, or all three of us, might do something similar someday. And we might. But it won't be based on this totally self-absorbed, woe-is-me whinefest.
Ann Kidd (Sue's daughter) emerges from college so depressed that she can barely function -- except to travel to Greece repeatedly. Her depression seems to stem from one - yes, one - rejection letter from a grad school. As much as I wanted to feel sorry for her and know that everyone handles obstacles in their life differently, all I could think was My God! Grow up! At least apply to one more school before you plummet into despair.
But, I'd say she learned her melancholy and introspective self-pitying from her mother. The two of them can't seem to have a single thought without exploring it ad nauseum.
That being said, I kept reading. I'm not sure why. I didn't like either woman, but found Sue's writing compelling anyway. And I love reading about authors' inspirations for their books and this memoir supplied all the background for what inspired Sue to write The Secret Life of Bees. That made it worth it to me.
Then, as I trudged on, reading page after page of each woman's thoughts, something shifted in me. I realized that I rarely try do any type of contemplative writing myself, and thought that perhaps I might try. I read this memoir about a month ago and have been incorporating a little more contemplation and thoughtfulness in my journal writing, if nowhere else. It is not coming along easily for me; I am a much more straightforward, factual non-fiction writer. But I'm trying, and it's because of this book. Despite the fact that I didn't think I liked it.