Books of a Lifetime ~ I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

This is the second in my Books of a Lifetime series. 

There are three books that have been my favorites for a very long time.  Other books have touched me and have jockeyed for positions in my top 25, but these three books are special and finite in my heart.  In no particular order, I’m starting with I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg.

I’ll get to the other two.  I Promise 😊

As I’ve said before, I read a bit above my grade level.  I remember seeing this title on a rack in a five and dime (yes, that long ago…) and buying it with my allowance money.  The book pictured above is not the original book I bought, because this is the movie tie-in edition and the movie wasn’t made until 1977.  I’d guess I bought my original copy around 1968 and probably read it so many times that it eventually fell apart.

One thing my three favorite books have in common is how much I remember about them, even though I haven’t reread them in years.  Probably because I read them so many times after I first discovered them.  And also, because they’re favorites for a reason!

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is the story of Deborah Blau, a sixteen-year-old schizophrenic confined to an asylum.  Working with empathetic and highly regarded psychiatrist Dr. Fried, we get to experience the tormentors that inhabit Deborah’s world of Yr.  I vividly recall the imagery of the beings and the never-ending fall into the abyss she created to hide from her own perceived ugliness and cowardice.  Days of lying wrapped in cold sheets when the misery became too much to bear.  Hours with Dr. Fried, dismantling the world she’d built to survive herself.  And especially, one scene toward the end, when she and another patient impulsively “escape” – the joy of their shared adventure, after a book filled with isolation and terror, is one of my favorite scenes in any book ever.

I’m also a process person—I like police procedurals, cozy mysteries and true stories of medical breakthroughs – basically anything that shows how something was puzzled out.  Dr. Fried’s techniques for helping Deborah are patiently administered through the three years of her confinement and we see the gradual healing that enables her to rejoin the world.

The really cool thing about doing this series is what I’m finding out about the books I love.  I had no idea that this is a semi-autobiographical accounting of the author’s time spent at a sanitarium, working with world-renowned psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichman.  At the time the book was published, Greenberg used the pseudonym Hannah Green because she didn’t want to disclose the true nature of the story she was telling.

I just bought the ebook of To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World by Gail A. Hornstein, a biography of Fromm-Reichman that covers Greenberg’s recovery.  Also, Greenberg took part in the 2004 Daniel Mackler documentary, Take These Broken Wings, about recovery from schizophrenia, which I plan to watch on Youtube.  Greenberg was a professor of anthropology and has continued to write into her late 80’s.

It may sound like a bummer of a book but the punishing realm she built in her mind is fascinating and served a purpose for her.  And the work Deborah does with Dr. Fried ultimately frees her from that suffering and allows her the life she might not have had otherwise.  It’s actually pretty life-affirming in the end and boy, howdy, don’t we need that right now?!

A Sawdust Birthday

Thought I’d do a blog post about my 66th, since there’s too many pics for Instagram. 

It’s been a couple of years (remember, Covid…) since we really did much for my b’day, so I was happy to plan this little outing.  July birthdays are kind of crap, really.  When you’re little, you miss the class birthday party and when you’re older, it’s summer, hot and most attractions are crowded and miserable…  But, fortunately, this was a Good One!

Onward, Birthday Girl!

What is the proper way for a former Bostonian to begin her birthday?  

A Boston Cream donut from Dunkin’, naturally!

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Books of a Lifetime ~ Little Women

This new series was inspired by John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever.  He recently wrote a series of posts, titled A Personal History of Music, and every day of June 2022 he picked a song and described why that song was important to him.  I thought that might be a fun thing to do, too.  Only with books.

As you might have guessed, I’ve been reading for a long time. And, naturally, there have been books and authors that have resonated with me at different times in my life for different reasons.

First up ~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I don’t remember how old I was but I’d guess eight or nine.  Around Christmas, my Girl Scout troop went to Boston to see a play based on the first chapter or two of the book.  I distinctly recall sitting in the dark theatre amid rows and rows of people (I think it was also my first live play), attention riveted to the stage where four poor girls made the best of the holidays.  A Christmas tree glowed in a corner of the theatre.  I was hooked!  I needed to see what else happened to those March girls.

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Things I Like Thursday – The Book Stephen King Sent Me

Wandering in the Christmas section of a mall store, probably in mid-November of 1983, I came across some really cute ornaments – sparkly spiders in a sparkly white web.  I bought two and sent one off to Stephen King.  I’d been reading his work since discovering Carrie in the New Book section at the Wilmington Public Library in the spring of 1974.  I loved everything he wrote and I thought that ornament would be a nice Thank You for all the hours of entertainment he’d given me.  I sent it off with a note and forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I got a notice to pick up a package that was too big for our P.O. Box.  When I saw the return address and postmark, I just couldn’t believe it.  Stephen King sent ME something??!! 

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Things I Like Thursday – Write Before Christmas

I wanted to see this movie on the recommendation of Racquel Henry, the owner of Writer’s Atelier, a group I belong to.  But I couldn’t find it streaming anywhere, so I ended up buying it.  Good decision!

As you’d expect of a Hallmark Christmas romance, it’s light and fun and full of romantic miscues but also has its share of orphans, loneliness and an adorable dog looking for his furrever home.  Here’s the story-Jessica, newly single again, takes Christmas cards intended for the guy who just broke up with her and sends them to five people with notes telling them how they have influenced her life for the better:

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Anniversary 42

Since the pandemic put the kibosh on travel, our anniversaries have been extremely low key.  In the Before Time, we at least took a weekend away and the five-year anniversaries were usually a little more special-the train from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon, a night at East Brother Light in San Rafael Bay.  We’d been planning our dream trip to Paris and Normandy for our 40th in 2020.  You know that ended up a non-starter…

Keeping it low key again this year, we’re off to Simi, CA, to take in the Secrets of WWII exhibit at the Reagan Library and spend a couple of nights in a favorite hotel.  With gas prices over $6 and Covid once again on the rise, we plan to stay close to the hotel, walking when we can, and keep as much to ourselves as possible while wearing masks at the Library.  But despite those travel drawbacks, we’ll have a good time learnin’ and relaxin’.

I thought I’d share some of our wedding pictures on the blog today, even though it’s a day early.  It was a bittersweet journey through the photo’s this year, since we won’t be getting an anniversary card from The Mom.  Also missing my grandparents, especially my grandfather, who walked me down the aisle.



Enjoy these photos from our Big Day.

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