About the Memoir
Gloria Norris, the author and main character, writes about her upbringing in the projects of Manchester, New Hampshire. Much of the book chronicles her life in the 1960s with her mother, Shirley, father, Jimmy, and half-sister, Virginia.
Norris’s prose is hilarious and poetic. Though some may find some of it offensive, it captures the slang of the 60s and her deadbeat dad who’s a well-read but deeply disturbed, volatile, ex-merchant mariner, of Greek descent. A low-level criminal, he threatens to kill people and degrades every person, no matter their race, creed, sex, or heritage.
Gloria pals around with him on hunting and fishing expeditions to put food on the table. They visit the race track to bet on nags hoping for the big payout, and she rides along with him when he goes to manicure the lawns for the rich people across town.
He refers to Gloria as Dummkopf, Pipsqueak, Dracula, because of her crooked teeth, Slowpoke, because he challenges her to a race and never let’s her win, and Egghead, because she’s smart and makes straight As.
Gloria fantasizes about becoming rich and getting out of the projects like her father’s friend, Hank, who owns a gun shop. Hank’s daughter, Susan, bright and beautiful, becomes Gloria’s idol. Susan wants to be a doctor and move to KooKooLand, says Jimmy about California, to save poverty stricken, children. Gloria sets her sights on becoming a doctor too, “to get the hell out of the projects.”
Violence reaches the climax half-way through the book when two people are murdered. Against the odds, Gloria manages to persevere and create a life void of poverty—a life in KooKooLand.
I gave it a 4.5 out of 5 because I was only mildly disappointed in the last several chapters. Norris’s voice from her childhood was replaced by her adult voice. Though appropriate for the pacing of the book, and her age, I missed the verbiage she through around as a child.
I found this book on BookBub, and I was hesitant to purchase it because it was only $0.99. This was a steal! The book is riveting, dark, and hilarious, I couldn’t put it down! I have a Book Hangover!
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