3 out of 4 stars
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For the first time in a long time, Amber is on vacation with her family. Her mind is consumed by disturbing incidents that occurred on their last vacation. She is uneasy after receiving a phone call from her father in which he admits to getting a DUI. She is bothered by the phone call, but before she can act on her sentiments, she learns that her father has committed suicide. The family vacation comes to an abrupt end as funeral arrangements are made.
During the preparations, Amber's mind is flooded with memories. She reflects on the upheavals of her childhood. Her parents were never truly satisfied. Their tumultuous relationship resulted in two marriages and two divorces. Her memories include being abused by a stepfather, after which her relationship with her
mother deteriorated. This train of thought eventually leads her to question the authenticity of her own marriage. She bravely examines all the signs that had been pointing out problems in her relationship. The picture-perfect existence she thought she had created begins to fall apart.
I enjoyed reading AJ Wootton's Gardening With Guns because the author is unapologetically honest about her life. She doesn't try to sugarcoat any of the difficult realities she faced as a child. Instead, she confronts the truth with tact and humility, exhibiting her maturation as a result of conquering enormous challenges. When she evaluates her own marriage, she maintains this candor by admitting her role in events. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't solely focus on the author's positive attributes.
Unfortunately, there were a few aspects that I felt needed more attention. Some of the plot points were left open-ended without any explanation. One is left to wonder what happened to her stepmother after the funeral. One also wonders whether Amber contacted her mother and told her about the suicide. Besides those points, I found quite a lot of pages where words didn't have spacing left between them.
Because of the flaws I discovered, I believe I have no choice but to award this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. This should not deter anyone from picking up the book and reading it. It sends a powerful message of hope to those who find themselves in difficult situations. The author's most important message is that with a little work and planning, life may change. I would recommend this book to anyone who is dissatisfied in their marriage. Fans of memoirs will so enjoy this read.
Gardening With Guns
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