In this unforgettable memoir, Sarah conveys the dark comedy in her quest to repair the heart her father broke. Good Girl takes an insightful look into what happens when the people we love unconditionally are the people who disappoint us the most, and how time, introspection, and acceptance can help us heal.
I always love memoirs and try to read as many of them as I can. Usually I read the memoirs told by the siblings or other family members of famous people – actors, political figures, musicians. I chose to read Good Girl by Sarah Tomlinson because it had been a while since I had read a memoir and after all, she has the same birthday as me – January 29 – so why not!
Sarah Tomlinson shares with readers her very unconventional upbringing and the “ins and outs” of growing up with her sometimes present father. Sarah’s parents split up when Sarah is just a small child and once her mom reunited with her college boyfriend, Craig, they buy 100 acres of land with five other families up in Maine.
Sarah spends the majority of her childhood there on what they call “the Land” while her father pops in and out of her life with random visits. Sarah does her best to be mature so her father comes back, believing her behavior is what causes him to visit or not visit, when in reality he’s a hitchhiking, acid-dropping, wannabe mystic turned taxi driver.
Sarah enters college at fifteen and when she graduates, she goes on to move to various cities in the United States, working as a journalist and rock critic. All through this story, there is always the issue of her father, no matter where she goes. Even after they later connect again in her twenties, and constantly communicate and see each other, she’s still working out her daddy issues in her head and in her life, even into her late thirties. As I read this memoir, I was kind of sad for Sarah, who didn’t understand the reasons for the inappropriate behaviors of some of the grown ups in her life when she was young, and just couldn’t let go of throughout her life.
Sarah shows her readers how her father’s non-committal and undependable love affects a young daughter, and how she moves in her own life without the tools to understand what is happening. She talks about striving to be “perfect” in school – not just good, not just average, but “perfect” so she would have something significant to set her apart from her half siblings and to encourage others to love her.
Sarah tells her story very frankly, and I felt as if I were sitting at the table listening to her share her story. If you are one of those people who spent too much of their childhood yearning for a parents’ love, you will completely identify with Sarah’s story. The story does teeter on “TMI” – too much information – as it pertains to her drinking, smoking and love life issues, while she dealing with the emotional damage left by her father’s shortcomings. This isn’t a book about blaming her father either, she just shares her story and that happens to be a part of it.
The thing that keeps you reading this book is the great writing. There’s no question that the book is well written. Sarah perseveres and her path is actually inspiring. This book was not what I would call an easy read, but once you start, you can’t put it down until you are finished. I don’t think Sarah set out to inspire others, but I think in a round about way, she is inspirational. As I said above, the book is very well written and Ms. Tomlinson does a great job sharing her story.
About the Author: Sarah Tomlinson is a Los Angeles– and Brooklyn-based writer. Her writing has appeared in publications including Marie Claire, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Salon.com, and Vol1Brooklyn.com. She has ghostwritten nine books, including two uncredited New York Times bestsellers.
Visit her online at SarahTomlinson.com and follow her alter ego, Duchess of Rock (@DuchessofRock), on Twitter.
Thank you so much NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion.