||"Words and magic were in the beginning one and the same, and even today, words retain much of their magical powers."
-- Sigmund Freud
|Love, Ellen: a Mother/Daughter Journey|
|By Betty DeGeneres|
|Published by Rob Weisbach Books|
|224 pages, street price $22|
|Review by Ryan Bureyko|
Don't Ask, Just Read the Book
Wow, a book about Ellen DeGeneres and her mom. I could think of quite a few more exciting books I could have read, but it was this one that landed on my doorstep. Ever the optimist though, I began flipping through the pages and to be honest, was quite surprised at the content.
To be completely frank, these books are the ones I choose NOT to read. This reviewer was already jaded by Bob Paris and Greg Louganis. What my life did NOT need was another book screaming for equal rights for gays and lesbians. I guess there is only so much preaching the"already converted" can take before getting tired of it all. That is too bad for me, because I would have missed out on a very important book. The point is, this book was not intended for my eyes. It was intended for the eyes of my family, my friends, and my enemies.
Through a combination of personal anecdotes, stories from her time on the road speaking publicly, poetry and some recipes (don't ask, just READ the book), we are taken on an important journey. A mother's life experiences that led to her acceptance of a lesbian daughter. As gays and lesbians, sometimes we choose to think that our parents lived such different lives from our own. Perhaps that is true, but here we get a chance to understand where a lot of our parents came from. With that, we are able to understand the value systems, the dysfunctions and the quirks involved with that thing we call the "generation gap."
"Love, Ellen" is structured in two parts. The first part, tells us the tale of Ms. DeGeneres' life growing up. We are exposed to her relationships, her faults and her losses, all described in an honest and frank manner. While some readers will undoubtedly skip to the juicy bits that part two holds, this is a very important segment. It is here that we can universally relate to "mom. "Sometimes we tend to forget that many times, women were not permitted to express what they were feeling, and the problems that arose with this societal more. This tour down memory lane prepares us for Part 2, which begins at the announcement of the "COMING OUT" episode of the television show "Ellen."
I guess I can leave it at that, as most readers are already familiar with the controversy surrounding the episode, and the issues surrounding the "first coming out" of a lead role in a sitcom. Ellen is gay, has a girlfriend, and has Oprah for a therapist. Need I say more?
Simply written, this book succeeds in allowing us to relate to Ms. DeGeneres as "mom. "Throughout my reading, I was surprised at how her experiences related to that of my own mother, and really made me value what it was that I had left behind in the town that I grew up in. I was also able to understand why communication is sometimes difficult. In plain language, we are introduced to the society that was. Where women were seen and not heard, and families were large.
Even if this book was poorly written, or a bore to read, it would have succeeded on a different level. When I was finished with the book, I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and called my mom. I told her what a gift she was, and thanked her for raising me te best she could in this very confusing day and age. Thanks Ms. DeGeneres.
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