Before reading "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal", I had only read one other book by Jeanette Winterson, her first book, "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit." I read it years ago on the suggestion of a friend who always recommends the best books. It is seemingly semi-autobiographical, although I did not know that at the time. I enjoyed it and remember it quite well, which made reading Winterson's newest book, WBHWYCBN, interesting as it discusses the ways in which the book, OANOF, was semi-autobiographical. Even better is how in this new book Winterson addresses her life directly rather than through fiction, focusing primarily on her childhood.
I am one of those people who are interested in hearing about how a person's life has been shaped through their upbringing. This is probably because I can see the ways in which mine shaped me. Winterson does this in great detail, and she does it so well. I couldn't help but relate to her constantly. I dogged eared every other page so I could go back and re-read it or read it to someone else. While attempting to push this book onto another friend I explained how I felt reading the book, how Winterson made me feel as if I was a close confidant. I really felt connected to this book as I was reading it. Her words have more than just emotion in them. Every one has had a childhood and has since spent time looking back on it in reflection to their lives in the present. This book made me feel like I was figuring out Jeanette with Jeanette.
Here are a couple excerpts from the book that I found to be particularly poignant:
"There might be a second chance. In fact, there are many more than two chances - many more. I know now after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance."
"I've spent a lot of time understanding my own violence, which is not of the pussy cat kind. There are people who could never commit murder. I am not one of those people. It is better to know it. Better to know who you are, and what lies in you."
I recommend this book to EVERYONE. Winterson is at the very least an interestingly complex woman.