Confessions of Joan the Tall: A Memoir by Joan Cusack Handler
Published: 2012 by CavanKerry Press
Source: Received from the publisher for review
I was not brought up in a religious household, so rituals and traditions of the Catholic faith have been a fascinating mystery to me. Though not Catholic, sometimes I pretended to be a nun, probably not understanding the complete meaning of what that entailed (I think I just thought it fun to wrap a towel around my head like a nun’s habit; I know, I am going to h*ll).
At the other end of the spectrum is Joan, a young girl growing up in the 1950s as part of a very devout Catholic family in New York City. Not only is Sunday Mass a given in the weekly schedule, she deems it an honor to accompany her father to early morning prayers during the week as well. But she definitely does not want to become a nun.
Confessions of Joan the Tall is a memoir told through the notebook entries of a 12-13 old girl; for me that made it feel less like a memoir and more like a novel. She talks about her faith, but she also talks about issues facing any girl her age: being different from other girls (Joan is 5’11” already and literally stands out among everyone at school), feelings about boys, sibling rivalry (especially with her brother Sonny), and her relationship with her parents. Her mother insisted that “family business” should never be discussed outside their home, but it seems like it is rarely discussed inside either, and because Joan seems like a sensitive, smart, thoughtful girl, the only way for her to express herself and explore the meaning of things going on is to write about them.
It was a fairly easy, quick read, and I enjoyed learning about living as a Catholic. I don’t think it is an inspirational book, but I’m sure if you were brought up in a Catholic household you could find a lot to relate to while reading it.
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