3 out of 4 stars
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Chronicles of a Child by Pearl Allen is a diary of sorts. Bessie, the narrator of her own story, tells us the saddening events of her childhood in her own words and the hardships she faced. There are also clay-like illustrations placed in the book to accommodate her story. She starts her story off as a young child and immediately digs deep into her harsh family life. Her parents have a huge influence on how she viewed the world, and this worldview only gets worse as she gets older. She experiences everything from racism to perverts at such a young age, and she tells it exactly how it is with an unfiltered view.
The part I enjoyed most about this book was her self-awareness through the whole chronicle. You immediately want to hug this character, and what she went through. She mentions in the beginning that the events of her childhood were how she saw it. She can't account for how her brothers, sisters, or parents would tell the same events. This gives me a sense of her character, and that she's not trying to convince us or have us believe these events. She is just telling it exactly how she experienced it. Her self-awareness stays through the whole novel, like her parents constantly splitting up and reflecting as well as questioning the idea of love.
The pieces that I disliked were the jumping back and forth constantly. For example, she would be discussing how it was living with her aunt and then jump back to a memory from when she was a kid that wasn't totally relevant to anything about her aunt. It was difficult at times to keep up what age she was when she discussed certain memories, or suddenly backtracking a few years. It's funny because she would be completely aware of this and apologize for her lack of organization in telling her story. I'm not sure if the constant back and forth was intentional to the author, but I definitely found it hard to keep up at times.
Another piece that confused me were the illustrations. There were some illustrations that didn't make a lot of sense. Occasionally, the context of the story she is discussing doesn't match the illustrations on the next page. I appreciated the colorful paintings in the story on its own because it evoked a lot of emotion, especially on the character's faces. It was very raw and real. But there were so many characters to follow, it was hard to know exactly who was who in the illustrations.
I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It was really interesting and tugged at my emotions the whole way through. Bessie, the main voice in the story, reminded me a lot of myself in how reflective she was, and self-aware about everything in her life. She wasn't afraid to question or push back when she needed to. But the constant back and forth with memories and events confused me, and the illustrations could have been better placed. I would highly recommend this book to anyone over 15 who enjoys reading life stories and can handle a lot of sensitive content.
Chonicles of a child
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