A Memoir of A Challenging Yet Aspiring Life — “Your Own Kind of Girl”

It spans from her childhood right through the moments when she cradles her baby.

We both know that I do literature reviews. We also both know I like to ramble on about irrelevant lines from literature I review. But I’m still human. That’s why I thought it would be sweet to present a memoir which I have just recently completed. You see, anyone can write a memoir, you don’t have to be Atwood or Moby Dick. If one has the great passion of storytelling, you can write a memoir. This is why I’m sharing with you today “…Australian musician, actress, radio presenter and business entrepreneur”, Clare Bowditch’s memoir “Your Own Kind of Girl”.

Alright, this time, please don’t be perturbed, or disturbed by the fact that I’m going to comment, as always on the various ways that I discover my books. And if you’ve been keeping up to date with my Medium blog, it’s way more than simply ‘oh look, there’s a book on the shelf, why not’. So … I’m treading my way around Hawksburn Station for an afternoon walk during my spare twenty minutes before I return to the horrid screen. I’ve seen the same houses again and again, except … there’s a box, with a few books, including the one above. There were many other interesting ones which I decided to take home, like “Low Tox Life: A handbook for a healthy you and a happy planet” and a Pablo Picasso illustration book (there are so many out there, it would be merely impossible to find the exact one). Rest were Peppa Pig if you’re interested.

It did follow the structure of your typical memoir, where it begins with the childhood events then rises up. Okay let’s begin on some interesting things about this book. First thing that caught my eye — finally at last, I’ve come across a book that actually utilises a first person perspective. Literature is … uhh … well according to my understanding … mostly in third person. This isn’t literature, I’m just saying it gave me a break from some crazy omniscient tone. I like how she actually takes her time to give some details about her surroundings, like I learned that her hometown is in Sandringham, and she keeps mentioning places that I have visited like Moorabbin Arts Centre and other random places on the Frankston line …

Cate, known lovingly as Catey and as other incomprehensible silly names is daughter of a Dutch mother and a lawyer father. She raised loving, the youngest of five. Her great emphasis on her personality such as vivacious, outspoken and bubbling is always helpful for the reader. There are also her mentions on her body size (which she mentions is larger than her age) which she mentions without shame. At last a writer that gets quite personal with the reader, rather than some random god who knows everything (sigh … literature). Then comes here weaved plot lines, like how people teased on her because of her body size. Here comes a social issue …

Of course, anyone would want to be good looking, be in good shape. But for Cate it simply isn’t like that, and she can’t really control that. Her mother would say things that would temporarily relieve her:

Mother: Don’t worry your my Amazon, and your my sweet daughter.

But how long those work, Cate will drag on. Cate eventually finds a way to avoid this sarcasm and taunting. She takes on different personalities which help her more noticeable and rather makes the “…mean boys” less likely to tease her. This means she will act like a chubby character from Ghostbusters etc. Even that was temporary and eventually the streams of tears will return. That’s when Cate is simply brave enough, as a ten year old who decides to dieting, starting to slowly break down. It’s not really as noticeable and of course, isn’t that something that Catey would hide?

Cate: By the time I was ten years old, none of the clothes in the children’s department fit me anymore.

A great dietician gives her a special diet to follow, and after following some one hell of a complex “… tomato emptied, filled with cottage cheese filling, sprinkled with parsley”. When she comes to school, she would hide her lunchboxes, but adults are always interested in diets and it’s just creepy to me. Let’s pace to stuff more relevant. Eventually she is thin, and it’s great, but Cate feels she’s lost something, she’s made a compromise. It doesn’t work, the bulge rises again and it’s a crazy mess. Let’s leave that aside … for now.

Okay, Cate has a sister Rowena. Suddenly, she’s afflicted with a very rare form of multiple sclerosis. Her whole body is paralyzed from her neck downward. She’s in the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital, with “…giraffe stickers on the wall”. Cate is only four while her sister is seven. She doesn’t really understand what is going on in the midst of changing houses to where the hospital is close by … remember that Sandy (abbreviation to Sandringham) is quite far from the main hospitals in the city. MRI scanning wasn’t really a thing at that time. Rowena could still give kisses … but suddenly, she had a near death experience in the hospital. The doctor had already mentioned at the start that Rowena didn’t really have much time left … After that experience, she’s no longer scared of death.

The day comes when she’s not in the bed anymore, she’s gone. This is something that recurs throughout the book. Okie dokie, that’s a lot of content. I could tell everything, but that’s futile. Reap the essence and the beautiful language of Bowditch. Even Rick Astley praises this book. She talks about musicianship, really strong psychological themes (such as breakdown) that is worth reading. It’s like Bowditch offers a piece of her brain for you to contemplate and watch in a movie. As the English teacher will state in your measly text response essays, there are two types of images. When you study films, you have visual images. Then there are images that books convey.

Last thing. Bowditch is a writer, and at the start of each large chapter, she mentions a few lines of her songs from her albums. She even mentions in the book that her break ups and such help her make her songs.

Bonus:

The provided image on the front and last page of “Your Own Kind of Girl”.

Clare: Who do you think took the photo on the front and back of the book your reading? Anna.

Btw Anna is Clare’s sister.

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Lowell Bassi

Lowell Bassi

My stories aspire to change the way we perceive literature, from a scary forest into something that we can all appreciate through humour and insight.