Posted with permission from a customer who bought Rag Dolls and Rage at my Indigo Spirit book signing event.
A. Zhang, Oakville (sent 09/23/2019)
I am not sure if you still remember me? Last Saturday (Sep 14) when I was buying books with my daughter in the IndigoSpirit near Trafalgar Rd in Oakville, I run into you. We had a brief talk, you said the Rag Dolls and Rage is your first book and italmost took you ten years to finally decide to write it. I mentioned that I cried a lot when I tried to write down my own memoir about my hometown. You also gave me some suggestions about writing the memoir, finding a theme, connecting the dots…which I really appreciated.
After our short talk, I bought your book signed by you and been reading your book in the following week. When the first time I read your book, I was so attracted by it that I read it very fast. Then I read it again. For the second time, I read it very slowly, tried to grab all the details and absorb every single word in the book. I feel I have to write a letter to you, just let you know how much I loved your book, how lucky I once met you in person and how much I appreciate your decision to publish your book.
I must tell you this very sincerely:
I have been reading massive books in my last few years after I came to Canada (memoir/biography/fiction/non-fictions/….). None of them ever touched my heart as MUCH as, as DEEP as your book. Besides awed by your talent to recall/describe things from your memory vividly and to connect them smoothly,I resonated strongly, enormously with your book. When myreading reached the last few pages, I couldn’t believe your book ends. I was expecting to read more. The day I met you, you looked very elegant and so lovely, I am sure that you must have brilliant experiences in your later life, like you mentioned at the end of the book about the life-transforming time in Europe. I hope you could write another book after this one soon, about the life you went abroad or life in Canada, it would be great too! I am looking forward to reading it.
My tears dropped down upon the sentence “Even the slightest impatience….I believed it was because I was unlikable….” . I feel like you are describing me, I was so familiar with and so used to the feeling of self-hatred/ self-conscious/self-blaming, but never stated clearly, it became an inseparable part of me. For many years, I believed I was disliked, shouldn’t be born, didn’t belong anywhere, doubted the meaning of life. But I had no one to blame for. Growing up from my background, I saw many people around me had their own struggles and
scars and limits, I was so sympathetic for them.
Last year, I went back to my hometown and found huge changes, a lot of things disappeared, remote rural villages were now transformed into modern cities… I kept thinking that how much I missed, what if I hadn’t left. After reading your book, I realized that ‘leaving’ isprobably the best ‘healing’.
Anyway, I love reading your book, I will recommend to all my friends. I wish your book could go to Canada Reads this year.
Below – sent by the same person, the next day
A little bit more…
I do think your book will bring a lot of insights to others. I feel that many people underestimated or neglected the impact of wounds from childhood, even from verbal abuse, how long the pain could last, how much it will affect their behavior and self-image, or change their later lives… For some people, it could be therapeutic by just reading your book. Hope your book could increase more awareness in these aspects. By the way, I like the word “stoic” you used in your book for people living through World war or a tougher life, which made me think about my mom. Also I like your Nana, Grandad and Eleanor a lot, they all have such kind hearts. I do believe a lot of other people would love your book and be deeply moved as well, as soon as your book become accessible to them.
Also I want to mention that the reading about your story living with Nana,grandad and Eleanor are very enjoyable, also the dog Joss.. A lot of your description brought me back many memories from my earlier age even though we came from a very different background, which seems reassuring somehow… The complicated crochet ( my mom used to do a lot of them and sold to factories), the mean kids (people may not realize how cruel some kids could be), the narrow minded adults (Freda’s grandma for example), the social expectation toward people of that era (pick up, dust off, keep going, pretend nothing happened, ignore emotional need…),and how much I wished my mom would like me more and be more patient, even the similar way my hair was washed…. I somehow wanted to give Dr. Beal and you a hug for his professional way of pointing out the essence of many things and released you from feeling guilty and how good you finally turned out to be meanwhile still keeping well the gentle and sympathetic part of yourself…..
Sorry if my writing looked illogical..
Best wishes to you and your book