2 out of 4 stars
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Iowa Days and Other Adventures is David Robert James’ memoir. James starts the book with his family’s German and Native American heritage. He proceeds to reminisce fondly about his childhood in his grandparents’ farm in Iowa. James also shares his memories about moving to Richmond, California, with his parents, camping at Yellow Creek and building a cabin in Tahoe with his family, and the summer job at Lake Tahoe that changed his life.
What I liked the most about this memoir was that the author shares his memories with charm and love. I could tell that he remembers his childhood and teenage years with great fondness. I also could tell that James has a friendly and kind personality, although he gets a bit cocky when he talks about the car models he has had throughout his life. The admiration for his grandparents and parents is evident too. For example, his grandparents worked extra hard on the farm, and his mother was single when he was an infant. Moreover, James wrote the 384-pages-long memoir as if he was narrating his younger years to a friend. I found this writing approach pretty nice because I thought that having a conversation with him in person over tea must be a treat.
Some of his memories stood out to me. My favorite was when I read that his mother bought a land lot in Tahoe and designed a cabin. Then, she made all the family work on it and build it from the ground. I was shocked when I read about the car accident he had when he was driving home a girlfriend. I thought it was awesome that he spent a summer with his mother in their family cabin. That summer, he found a job in which he had to plan and build a waterwheel, which is still standing today.
Unfortunately, this memoir is in dire need of an editor. I found hundreds of grammatical, syntactic, punctuation, capitalization, and formatting errors. The fact that I found numerous errors page after page made it clear that this book did not pass through the hands of a professional editor. Even though I enjoyed James’ charming tone and stories, the blatant errors made the memoir a hard read. The errors constantly distracted me and, on numerous occasions, made the sentences challenging to understand. Another issue is that James stops the narration in some instances to explain how he took some literary liberties to tell the story of his ancestors. Also, he repeats himself sometimes when he goes back and forth in his timeline.
Unfortunately, I rate Iowa Days and Other Adventures 2 out of 4 stars. Even though I liked the author and some of his memories stood out to me, I cannot award the book three stars because it has hundreds of errors. If it had had less than ten mistakes, I would have given it three stars. For that to happen, an editor has to revise it. In this state, I would only recommend it to those who are into memoirs set in Iowa and California during the 1940s and 1950s and who would be able to stand the number of errors.
Iowa Days and Other Adventures
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