3 out of 4 stars
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What’s Wrong With Wende? by Windell Yvette Beaird is a memoir that recounts the story of the author’s life. Affectionately nicknamed Wende by her loved ones, the author has been through a lot. Since she was a little girl, life did not show her much kindness. Wende’s childhood was torn between her difficult situation at home and the good moments she shared with her family. Her mother’s illness forced her to be asleep most of the time, so that Wende had to tend to her younger brother and the household needs from a very young age. When she was eleven years old, she was sexually assaulted by a man who was close to her family. Unfortunately, this is not the only time Wende would be assaulted.
Wende got in trouble countless times during her teenage years, often to satisfy her wanderlust. Her misdeeds included purchasing a plane ticket to another state without her parents knowing, withdrawing her salary from the cash register at the 7-Eleven she was working, and stealing from her dad’s money bag to travel to Georgia and meet a guy who looked like Robert Redford, who would end up being her first husband. You would think that Wende was an evil teenager if you did not know that she would always end up telling on herself and feeling terrible about what she had done. Growing up, Wende battled failed marriages, loss of family members, addiction, domestic and sexual assault, and financial instability. Her faith in God and unwillingness to give up on herself was what encouraged her to carry on. She is now a hospice nurse.
What I liked most about the book was the author’s transparency and honesty in recounting the events, even the ones that did not make her look like a good person. On several occasions, I felt very frustrated with Wende’s behavior. One such occasion was when Wende got into a relationship with Jerry, a charming inmate in a Texas state prison. When Jerry asked her to help him smuggle drugs into the prison, she was hesitant at first, but she ended up doing it anyway, putting herself and her sons at risk. While I was feeling a mixture of condemnation, anger, and frustration toward Wende, I could not help but be grateful to her for sharing the darkest parts of her life with her readers so candidly. When readers manage to get past a layer of judgment and frustration toward Wende, they will hopefully see a woman who is well aware of the power that comes with sharing her story with no filters, and of the impact this could potentially have on others who might be struggling with similar issues.
One aspect of the book I did not like is that, occasionally, people that have not been previously introduced make an appearance in the story. The author mentions quite a lot of people in her memoir, so seeing unfamiliar names definitely made me feel lost. Furthermore, the multitude of people in Wende’s life was slightly overwhelming to keep up with. More specifically, I had some difficulties navigating the beginning of the book, where the author introduces many members of her family. There were definitely more names than I could remember.
The author herself specified that the book has not been professionally edited. She opted against professional editing because she did not want an editor to interfere with what is her own story to tell. Although I found more than ten errors, these were not overly distracting. The book contains profanity and descriptions of sexual, physical, and substance abuse. I advise readers who might be triggered by these against picking up this book. Furthermore, the author profusely talks about her Christian faith throughout the book. While I think that this does not make the book unsuitable for readers with different religious beliefs, I discourage those with an aversion toward the Christian religion from picking up this memoir.
Because of the errors and the issues I had with keeping up with all the people included in the memoir, I rate What’s Wrong With Wende? by Windell Yvette Beaird 3 out of 4 stars. If you’re a person who is easily offended, I encourage you to steer away from this book. On the contrary, if you’re someone who seeks to learn from the experiences of others and is eager to open their minds and hearts to narratives that might be unfamiliar and shocking, this book might be just for you. The author’s point in narrating some of the most tragic and traumatic events of her life is to provide an example of resilience to people who have gone through similar things and might want to give up on themselves. If you resonate with Wende’s story, you will not regret reading her memoir.
What's Wrong With Wende?
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