When the World Didn’t End: A Memoir

Crown. May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780593237595. $28. MEMOIR
Screenwriter/director/actress Turner (Charlie Says) states at the beginning of her memoir that it attempts to simply document the events of her childhood as they happened, as well as the feelings she experienced at the time, without letting her adult perspective color her descriptions. She has done this successfully, recalling growing up in the Lyman Family Commune until the age of 11, when her mother chose to leave and take her children with her. Approximately half of the book describes Turner’s early childhood in the 1970s with “the Family,” as they were called, whose members believed they would be taken by spaceships to the planet of love, Venus. The other half of the book describes her adolescence as a “world person” after leaving the Family. Turner’s diary entries are also interspersed throughout the memoir, which gives readers a clear insight into what she was thinking and feeling at the time. They show readers that physical and sexual abuse were present in Turner’s life, when she was in the commune as well as when she was out in the world.
VERDICT Will have wide appeal for general audiences, particularly those who enjoyed memoirs such as Tara Westover’s Educated and Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox.
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