4 out of 4 stars
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Free Bird: A Memoir, by Amber White, details the author's relationship with her "Dad." Starting with her experiences as a child, the author gives different descriptions of her father as self-centered, crazy, different, controlling, and a daredevil. Growing up under her father's care was always going to be tough, as she struggled with understanding him, not feeling loved by him, and the many bad examples set by him among other things.
These experiences affect the author in so many ways, particularly in her romantic relationships and her career as a juvenile correction officer, as she almost always went in the direction of trying to save people from themselves. In spite of all this, she still sees her father as her greatest teacher. How did she thrive growing up and how do these experiences and lessons shape her personality?
Firstly, I found this to be a very emotional read as I watched the author struggle with a range of emotions as she grew. The different tones used in the story perfectly reflected her emotions of sadness, anger, confusion, love, and gratitude. The story is drama filled and very captivating, and I couldn't imagine putting it down once I started. Amber's father certainly lived an adventurous life doing whatever he wanted, as he believed that "if it felt good it couldn’t be bad." However, as readers feel the excitement of following his interesting fun-filled life, it will be hard to ignore the effects of this lifestyle on his family, especially Amber's mother. Readers will also get a background story on Amber's dad and see how his upbringing, as he got whatever he wanted from his mother, affected his personality.
Another fascinating character of Amber's dad I noticed was his ability to get one to do his bidding or agree with him. The author said a lot about this attribute throughout the novel, but I experienced it first hand in the letters he wrote to Amber trying to explain his actions when he did something wrong. Including these letters showed things from his perspective and may give some readers a different view of some of the events that happened in the story. One thing I expected from a free-spirited daredevil, like Amber's dad, was his eventual drug addiction. The effects of his bad habits on the family's finances were explored as well.
Amidst her bad experiences growing up, there were good relationships that were sources of strength and love for Amber, like her relationship with her maternal grandparents, her father's friend, Chuck, and her best friend, Deedee. These relationships were a breath of fresh air, not just for Amber, but for me as I read.
Free Bird is exceptionally well edited, as I didn't find a single error throughout the book and this made my read flow seamlessly. I can't think of anything I dislike about this book. Reading about Amber's experiences with her father and her path to self-discovery conveyed a lot of lessons. Forgiveness is another key theme of the story that I enjoyed. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to lovers of memoirs and drama-filled stories. People that have struggled with love and tough experiences growing up will easily relate to this story. However, the inclusion of drugs and the occasional use of a strong language means that this book isn't appropriate for a younger audience.
Free Bird: A Memoir
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