The Sapling Years by Shelly Irvine is a personal memoir discussing the author's life journey. As book two of a four book series, it is correctly labeled The Sapling Years because it focuses on the first twenty-one years of Shelly’s life. The underlying theme of this book shines through every chapter and paragraph, teaching that life goes on despite trials and hardships. This memoir discusses the author’s childhood in rural Virginia, education in a Bible belt, how she worked through an abusive relationship, her experiences with Army life, adventures in new lands, love, childbirth, divorce, and more.
A majority of the story covers the younger parts of the author’s life, detailing childhood mishaps, trouble-making, and chores. Life in the 1960s was pretty different than life today, so this books tells about a child helping her parents hang up clothes to dry, using a manual push mower without a motor, and playing outside in the woods, rather than spending countless hours scrolling through the internet. This memoir details the struggles of an adolescent, the hardships of a teenager, and the confusing changes that come along with transitioning into adulthood. In the end, the title of the series as a whole, “This Too Shall Pass”, becomes rather obvious because even though everything in life continues to change, the knowledge that the hard times will pass away always remains constant.
I have never read a book officially labeled as a ‘memoir’ before, so I would say that this book was a good introduction to the genre. It wasn’t perfect and felt too long at times, but I did enjoy reading about another person’s life, especially someone who grew up during the 1960s time period and beyond.
This is technically the second book in this series, however the first book wasn’t needed for me to understand what was going on. The first book was about the author’s parents and their journey, whereas this book begins with the author's life. The author does include a helpful summary of the first book for anyone interested, which I found to be extremely thoughtful.
This book is definitely a more mature read, as it discusses a variety of topics and covers from birth to age twenty-one. I’m not sure if I would necessarily recommend this book to someone, but I think it is an enjoyable read for people who appreciate the autobiography/memoir genre of books. The words and sentence structures were a little rough to read at times, and the story wasn’t always attention-grabbing, but then again, so it is with life.
In conclusion, this felt like a realistic and relatable read but is meant for a more mature/grown up audience.
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