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. This audiobook 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.
Each chapter in the book contends with a different relationshipfriends, lovers, and strangers are all playbut at its heart the book is about family, the ties that bind and enrich and betray us, and how one young woman sought to survive and rise above her surroundings.
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An Important New Voice - In More Ways Than One
A reader can make or break an audio book. In this case the added value of the author's voice was positively atmospheric. Nelson's performance is as honest and unique as her prose style. Her eclectic dialect contains echoes of the loneliness and freedom of being in-between two cultures. It just grabs you and won't let go!
The form of this book, which blends personal essay and memoir, is ideally suited to listening in short sessions. I was completely engaged by the story and felt invested in the fate of the characters. The honesty with which the author looks at her life is truly commendable.
- Toliwicious McGinty
Artful, honest, and well Narrarated