Birth of a New J: A Cathartic Memoir
Julie Guardado began her life backwards, entering the world buttocks first. Perhaps she was trying, even then, to turn around, away from the hard realities of life. Guardado takes readers through six years of tragedies and mistakes in her memoir The Birth of a New J. From lending money and artificial insemination to a sore inability to move men to love, Guardado tells her story with raw, honest emotion, beautifully portraying a brutal reality. She tells her story as it happened, doing nothing to portray a better woman than who she was, and yet, at the same time, she is able to be humorous, despite the wreckage of her life. Julie presents three “lessons” throughout her book, summarized as such: give the head and heart what they need, rid yourself of toxins and learn to breathe.
In a world where mistakes are buried deep, The Birth of a New J provides a much-needed respite from dishonesty and arrogance. Today’s culture hides the skeletons in the closet, afraid of what people may think, what people may do. We pretend to be perfect on all forms of social media, leaving the dark and ugly in our back pocket, hoping no one will notice. Guardado realizes that these very skeletons make us who we are. She doesn’t tell her story with pride, but she does realize that to move on and live, she must live up to the very mistakes most people try to hide. She uses her chaotic past, not only in hopes of helping others avoid her same mishaps, but also to encourage readers to accept their blunders.
Not many readers will identify with the specific experiences Guardado had. They are unique to her. However, she portrays them in a way that allows readers to identify with the human experience itself. Her purge has the power to allow readers to do the same, no matter how different their pasts may be.
Throughout, I found myself laughing with Guardado, screaming at her, hating the men that broke her heart ,and having my own heart broken when I discovered her deepest want was to go unsatisfied. It was tempting to put the book down – facing pain is never easy. But, I found it impossible to do so.
Taking a scientific twist, Julie compares the trauma of childbirth with the emotional trauma found throughout life. She touches accurately on what many women need to feel fulfilled in a relationship by revealing three relationships in which she was given the exact opposite. “The head and the heart,” Guardado writes, “are the most demanding of organs and will not accept less than what they need.”
The Birth of a New J provides very little to complain about. While memoirs as painful as Julie’s are not loved by all, the book does have lessons for all. The memoir is well-written, and even its technical faults are overshadowed by the beauty of Guardado’s story. For women who have suffered as Guardado did, this book can provide closure and healing. For others, it can provide insight into the human experience without the bitterness commonly associated with heartbreak. It’s a gem of a novel, worth the read and an impressive debut for a new novelist sure to produce more works just as beautiful as her first.
|Page Count||340 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|