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White Elephants: On Yard sales,…
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White Elephants: On Yard sales, relationships, and finding what was…

by Katie Haegele

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Well, this was a cute little memoir, very sweet and lightly edited. By that I mean, it is not as polished as some of your more commercially produced works. It is based, if I understand correctly, on a blog and/or series of zines that the author worked on for some time. Not sure if it is extant or if this was a collection of something that has since ceased. I forget why I put this on my list of things to read, I think I read a review somewhere and it piqued an interest. The flap copy says picking through church rummage sales and yard sales in her community became a way to connect with her mother and retain some closeness with her late father. These sentiments definitely come through, but again, the narrative has such a light touch, the real intimacy almost seems missing. Perhaps because it did begin as a blog or something similar, it feels like the author is eager to reveal personal details... but only to a point, and then she pulls back. There is a scene near the end where she describes an emotional outpouring she experiences, and the feeling that her boyfriend, who she is on the way to see, may not be able to deal with her torrent of tears, but then he is completely fine, giving her lots of support and being just the right tonic to soothe her frayed psyche. But, she doesn't explain what brought on the outpouring in the first place. There is a suggestion that it is something to do with the anniversary of her father's death, but it isn't explicit. That's the kind of thing a good editor would probably question, and as I mentioned, that level of editing seems absent from this volume.

Nevertheless, it is a charming and entertaining little book. I did find myself yearning for some photos of her house, filled with all the little knickknacks and doodads she picks up at the rummage sales and describes so lovingly, and maybe a photo of her, decked out in her ramshackle outfits. I can't imagine having such a hunger for those kinds of little items. But I appreciate that she has it, and I respect that she has found a way to make a living, or at least keep herself and a small audience entertained, by following a passion. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
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White elephants are among the odd, old, and generally discarded items that end up at yard sales and flea markets, and Katie Haegele loves them all-or at least an awful lot of them. Rekindled friendship and renewed family bonds are the cornerstones of this quirky and touching memoir inspired by odds and ends, but Haegele demonstrates that knick knacks and old lamps aren't the only things to be found at a yard sale. Her relationship with her mother is unexpectedly transformed through flea markets and garage sales, as is the deepening connection with her deceased father. Even a bit of romance finds its way into this charming story of personal empowerment and strength in overcoming hardship.… (more)

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