Last year, a Goodreads friend and heart survivor, Benjamin Carey, sent me a copy of his book, Barefoot in November. I must confess, I was reluctant. Not because I thought it would be a bad book, but it was another among a stack of “to-read” books already spilling over into my eventful life.
I’m glad I read it.
While not a perfect book, Ben Carey’s Barefoot in November accomplishes what I’m looking for in an excellent memoir. Below is the review I posted on Amazon:
While it is difficult for me to relate to Carey’s predicament (no major medical problems, so far *knock on wood*), his memoir Barefoot in November contains one element that draws me to all memoirs: candid honesty. Carey’s words are often harsh and bitter, but they are always honest. In spite of this occasional bitterness, Barefoot in November is ultimately a success story. Ben is a survivor, and proud of it. He is also living proof that “good health” is a holistic lifestyle change and not just “diet and exercise.”
I love the juxtaposition of the simplicity of his writing style with the deep issues he tackles: priorities, love, death, family.
I also appreciate that Carey pulls no punches, especially at the beginning of the book when he begins to wrestle with his illness and deal with the weight of his diagnosis. While in the waiting room, Carey has an interior monologue that I’m convinced would be expected from any young man suddenly struck with health problems: “I sat on a vinyl chair in the waiting room…wondering what the hell I was doing sitting around with a bunch of geriatrics. I didn’t have anything against them, but I didn’t belong there…I felt uncomfortable and out of place.”
It is this voice, Ben’s voice, that I appreciate. Authors like Carey, who admit their faults and lay their hearts out (pardon the expression) for all to see, regardless of possible criticism. This is what I love about memoirs and Carey has done a superb job.
There is much to admire in Ben’s memoir. Profanity aside, I appreciate it when an author lays bare what most of us are afraid to expose. It is what draws me to writers like Donald Miller, Anne Lamott, and David Sedaris. I don’t always like or agree with what they say, but I admire and respect that they were honest enough to say it.
Keep it up, Ben.