4 out of 4 stars
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It would be difficult to find a more appropriate title for Izzie Bebe’s memoir. Just as the title implies, It’s Complicated: A Love Story and Memoir is a complex, reflective look at Izzie’s own life and the triumphs and mistakes that have brought her to the present. This memoir focuses on Izzie’s experiences starting from the adoption of her first child, Vianne. In the beginning, we are introduced to Vianne’s eccentric personality and come to find out she is expecting her first child. Due to various conditions, Vianne is unable to properly mother a child. Ready for retirement, Izzie is unsure if she can revisit the adoption process all over again. Love, laughter, tears and unexpected changes are all at the forefront of this incredibly personal memoir.
Izzie Bebe has a wonderful way with words. The memoir's prose is raw and emotive, and the choice of the narrative perspective added an additional dimension to Izzie’s story. Told in the first person, Izzie's present-self narrator looks back on the past. The perspective style significantly added to the dramatization of events and exemplified realistic growth because of the addition of Izzie's self-reflection. Izzie’s words unfold through musings on her past self, much like the resolute, sometimes unapologetic feelings we have all had when reflecting on past actions and feelings, making Izzie's words that much more relatable. I appreciated the honest, naked exposure the author provided of her life. This aspect created a unique connection between author and reader; by the end of the book, I felt like Izzie was a long lost friend.
Not only was the prose masterfully conveyed, the organization of the memoir was successful as well. The memoir touches on various aspects of Izzie’s family life, marriage, and career over the years, but the story of Vianne and the birth of her micro preemie son, Von, are the backdrop upon which all other stories are set. The use of an extended plot arc was a smart choice that helped build interest in Izzie’s life as well as anticipation about the outcome of key characters. Further, each anecdote, aside, or other description of the past was skillfully woven through the main plot arc, ensuring each came across as important and meaningful; no story felt randomly placed.
Overall, the author is most successful at telling a story. If this wasn’t marketed as a memoir, it could easily be perceived as a fictional, yet powerful, study of the human condition. Unfortunately, there were a few obvious typos throughout the text, like ‘nap of my neck’ and ‘amble bosom,’ that were somewhat distracting. A thorough round of editing would really bring Izzie’s memoir to the next level.
It’s Complicated is, by far, the most engaging and heartwarming memoir I’ve read in a long while. The author’s ability to gracefully connect her personal thoughts, emotions and experiences with the reader is nothing short of endearing. Although there were some editorial flaws, I was so drawn to Izzie’s words and her masterful use of language that I cannot rate It’s Complicated less than 4 out of 4 stars. Readers who enjoy raw, emotional, real-life accounts will quickly fall in love with Izzie’s narration in It’s Complicated.
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