Brilliant memoir of an unusual and enjoyable childhood!
I've added this to my favorite all-time reads list.
This book was a real hoot. Those who grew up during the 50's and early 60's would take a walk down memory lane. She mentioned things that I had not thought of in years, since I grew up during that time. If you want to read a funny book, then read this.
Sometimes amusing and touching, this book offers an in-depth look at the often atypical 50's childhood of an exceptional girl. But it's a period piece that lacks heart, and came across to me as calculated rather than genuinely heartwarming. Worse, some pieces, especially the final chapter or two, sounded unreal, more like fanciful imaginings or events remembered and filtered through the haze of intervening years and experience.
I was born in 1948, the same year as Gildiner and grew up in a small Ohio town so that made Gildiner's stories especially appealing to me. She is an excellent writer and she captures with sensitivity the sometimes perplexing world of childhood, especially that of a "different" child in an eccentric family. Not being Catholic, I found the insights into a Catholic school education in the 50s interesting, if surprising. The end of the book, which deals with the end of innocence "by firing squad" came abruptly, as the end of innocence usually does. Others found this unbelievable; I didn't, but I wished for a more fleshed out conclusion, somehow.
Meh . . . this book was okay. I have read several reviews where this was compared to The Glass Castle - I wouldn't agree. This book was "kinder and gentler" than that - and it's certainly no Augusten Burroughs, so if that's what you're looking for here, you're not going to find it. Cathy has typical 50's parents - mom stays home and volunteers, dad works every day at a drugstore he owns in a small town - it's really more "her" that seems out of place (she admits herself that today she would be classified as ADHD.) A central theme in the book are her daily antics at parochial school . . . I'm not Catholic, and even though I found the reflections somewhat amusing, I don't think I identified with them as much as someone who has been through a parochial school background would. If you like reading about small towns in the 50's, this book would be for you. I wouldn't necessarily pick up another title from this author.
'Too Close to the Falls' by Catherine Gildiner is a supposedly true account of the daughter of a pharmacist and her growing up in the 50s and early 60s. Kind of splitting the difference in a review because the first half of the book was totally entertaining but I disliked the end. It did feel like when you hear a friend telling a familiar tale which has, with each retelling, gotten larger and more amazing. The child is allowed to work in her father's pharmacy from a very early age and has remarkable freedom. However, as she progresses through school and sees how unusual her family behaves - they eat out every night and her mother does not believe in following many conventions - Catholic school becomes a poor fit for Catherine. And after a rather startling adventure with a young priest the book simply cuts out! It is as if the author got tired or found she did not feel up to revealing her future adventures and decided not to finish up. And, we have become fond of her, so it is most disappointing. Glad I read it though.
I loved this book. I highly recommend.
the author is a great writer, her memoir is full of interesting observations of people and behaviors.
I loved this book so much I bought ten more copies and gave them to friends.
I wish she'd write more.