3 out of 4 stars
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Notes After Midnight: How I Outlasted my Teenagers, One Mistake at a Time is a memoir about the struggles of a single mother as she raises her children while managing her business. The book contrasts the expectations of the “perfect mother” with the author’s hard reality. Based on her recollections, Carol Richmond wishes her book to inspire women, especially those who are looking for hope in hopeless situations.
The book starts with the author’s childhood as she talks about her strict Catholic parents and her first (and divorced) husband. Left with three kids, she has to work hard building her business to survive. She spends most of her time building and managing her business, leaving her with less or no time at all for her children. Thus, their means of communication is through writing letters at night. The author reminisces some memories with her children through these letters.
The author vividly describes her struggles by juxtaposing her dream of being the “perfect mother” with the reality she has experienced. This emphasizes the author’s struggle while attaching the story with a bittersweet feeling. No matter how hard she tried, the problems with her children kept on coming. This is worsened by the fact that the author has hardly any time for her children. But eventually, we see the author’s relief and triumph. All of these make the book an inspirational read.
However, the book can be confusing to read at times. The story is told through recalling certain memories related to particular letters. The author attempts to tell these stories in chronological order, starting with the eldest to the youngest child. But then, the author jumps back and forth through the timeline. While this way of writing serves to provide some closure or background information for the memory, it can also make the narrative difficult to follow.
Nevertheless, the book simulates this slice-of-life storytelling through fragments of the author’s experiences, giving the book a personal quality. Overall, Notes After Midnight: How I Outlasted my Teenagers, One Mistake at a Time is an inspirational read, but the way the narrative is told can make the book difficult to read. Because of the aforementioned factors above, I have to rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. While anyone may find this book inspirational, I can recommend this book especially to single mothers who are struggling to raise their children. Also, I have to warn readers that the book contains content of child abuse and suicide.
Notes After Midnight; How I Outlasted My Teenagers, One Mistake at a Time
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