3 out of 5 stars
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Jeffrey N Hardy’s Memories of Freedom shows a day in the lives of four people in San Francisco. Nate is a carpenter who wants to be needed. Henrietta felt shame in every facet of her life. Tommy misses the freedom he felt as a merchant marine who traveled around the world. Martin wants to feel strong, despite his disability. Their lives become intertwined, despite their different approaches to life.
Nate seems to avoid conflict and has an obsessive need to fix everything. When he sees an elderly man with a bad back, he assumes the same posture. By doing this, he imagines what it would take to fix the problem. However, this doesn’t bode well everywhere. Henrietta sets herself up by believing she is going to fail at everything she tries. After losing her job, she avoids going back to her friends’ house, where she was staying. She uses her money to stay at the hotel, where the desk clerk offers to lower her rent if she sleeps with him. Tommy reflects on his life and feels he has missed something. He believes he lost the only person who could have made him happy. However, pride prevents him from accepting anyone into his life. Martin seems to be disconnected from society and spiteful. He has no friends and tends to put himself in situations to appear like a victim.
Memories of Freedom delves into the past experiences of each character. Their thoughts are in exceptional detail. Each experience is relatable, and I had no issue understanding their actions. There were several situations in which I would have reacted the same way. For example, Henrietta’s boss invited her to a party at his house. When she arrives, he is wearing a red jockstrap and a mask. I would have turned around and left like she did. What sane person invites their employees to a swinger party?
There are some things that could improve the book. Another round of editing would be beneficial. Some of the chapters have flashbacks that occur to Nate. However, it doesn’t explain what happened that would make him picture someone named Guadalupe riding away on a bicycle. Was she his girlfriend? Is she someone who was hurt because of something he did? It didn’t offer an explanation that I could discern. I reread the chapters several times and still didn’t understand them.
I am rating Memories of Freedom three out of five stars. I deducted a star for the editing, as I found over ten errors. I am also deducting a star for the lack of clarity that I mentioned. Not knowing why Nate had the flashback of Guadalupe riding away on a bicycle was distracting. This would be a great book if those two issues were addressed. The characters are easy to connect with because of the attention to detail given to their thoughts. The limited dialogue was realistic for each moment.
Memories of Freedom would appeal to adult readers who enjoy reading about people’s lives before technology was available. There is mention of drug deals, prostitution, and violence that depicts a gruesome scene in graphic detail that make it inappropriate for younger readers. The amount of profanity may be offensive to some readers.
Memories of Freedom
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