Little Miseries: This Is Not a Story About My Childhood

Delphinium. Jan. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781953002204. $27. F
DEBUT School Library Journal Senior Editor Fakih’s coming-of-age debut novel reads like a memoir. Narrated by Kimmie, stuck between sporty older brother Paul and cute baby Nellie, and told in vignettes, it conveys Kimmie’s growing awareness that adults aren’t infallible and that sex is a thing. Readers witness the bully gym teacher who gets his comeuppance, the snobby grandmother constantly criticizing Kimmie’s weight, and the other relatives, friends, and acquaintances who don’t always act right. Kimmie is the chronicler of the family’s goings-on, constantly aware of the tension that lurks below the surface of their booze and cigarette-filled Mad Men lifestyle: neighbors behaving badly at a birthday party; her father’s semi-creepy treatment of a family friend; her mother’s unhappiness. She is living through that teenage phase of discovering who she is and separating herself as a person from her family. By the time she comes to grips with who she is and can clearly see the big misery that is happening there, it’s too late.
VERDICT A heartbreaking and realistic view of childhood that would be a great addition to any library collection. Not just for fiction readers but also for fans of memoirs like Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club.
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