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If Only You People Could Follow Directions:…

If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir

by Jessica Hendry Nelson

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Uneven. There were times when the writing grew tiring and other times when it painted incredible scenes and feelings. The jumping around from past to present was sometimes difficult to follow. ( )
  PRusso | Feb 21, 2015 |
There's a blurb on the back of this book that talks about how Nelson has taken "another familial memoir of addiction" and made it "vital" and "compelling." I have to respectfully disagree. To me, it was just "another familial memoir about addiction." While I appreciated her writing (there are some great poetic lines in here), I wasn't that into the story. Yes, the characters have their quirks and they are portrayed wonderfully well, but I've read this type of story so, so many times. Nothing about it hit me square between the eyes, which is what I want from a memoir. Also, I found it kind of scattered. It jumps around A LOT, sometimes without a section break to clue you in to what's happening. One paragraph is in the present, the next is a flashback to another time. I really wanted to like this, but it just didn't do it for me. ( )
  KimHooperWrites | Feb 20, 2015 |
Really good, heavy reading. I found the first few essays to be better than the last, however. I could only read it in small doses. ( )
  lemontwist | Jun 30, 2014 |
Jessica is an excellent writer. I enjoyed her style and descriptions. Her story was genuine, and I greatly appreciated her open and painfully exposed story of herself and her family. This is not the family next door, and yet it actually could be and that is what is scary. Jessica and her brother had a special relationship that was very close as children, but eventually is torn apart through her brother's life choices which follow in their father's footsteps. I could feel her hope and belief that things were all going to be OK, slip away as she tells the story of her dysfunctional family and their addictive behaviors. I only people could follow directions! Ultimately though, I found the story to be very sad and not entirely important enough to overcome the feelings of dread and despair produced by her inability to save her brother.
I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy memoirs of the struggles of ordinary people, particularly in dealing with real life problems. Just don't expect a fairy tale ending. ( )
  c.archer | Nov 6, 2013 |
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"If Only You People Could Follow Directions is a spellbinding debut by Jessica Hendry Nelson. In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reimagined the memoir with her thoroughly original voice, fearless writing, and hypnotic storytelling. At its center, the book is the story of three people: Nelson's mother Susan, her brother Eric, and Jessica herself. These three characters are deeply bound to one another, not just by the usual ties of blood and family, but also by a mother's drive to keep her children safe in the midst of chaos. The book begins with Nelson's childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia and chronicles her father's addiction and death, her brother's battle with drugs and mental illness, her own efforts to find and maintain stability, and her mother's exquisite power, grief, and self-destruction in the face of such a complicated family dynamic."--… (more)

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