Monday, January 17, 2011
Book Review: To Have Not
In "To Have Not," Frances Lefkowitz details her life growing up in poverty and how she learned to cope with the constant moves to different cramped apartments and how it has shaped and affected her as an adult. Early on, she created two categories of people, the "haves" and the "have nots." She found ways to keep up with the "haves" while being part of the "have nots," and eventually went to an Ivy League college before embarking on various career paths and traveling across the USA and even to Central America.
We both recently had an opportunity to read "To Have Not," thanks to BookSparks PR, and wanted to share our views on the book.
I was first attracted to the cover of this autobiography, which led me to believe that the story would be as warm and cozy as the sweater the girl was wearing on the cover. However, Ms. Lefkowitz did not aim for a warm and cozy feeling while writing about the details of her past and present lifestyles. While honest and gripping, her story isn't pretty by any means. There is a lot that reminded me of "The Glass Castle," another autobiography about living with less and being forced to move a lot as a result. I also was reminded of a series I read in my youth called "The Boxcar Children," where these kids had to get creative to make-do with the little they had.
There are some parts that I really found interesting and during those, I felt I could really understand what Ms. Lefkowitz was going through and sympathize. However, there were other parts that went over my head a bit, as she grew up in a different era than I did and was raised in a completely different lifestyle than I was. So it was hard to picture those moments. I really liked that she didn't give up on herself, even when she felt the odds were stacked against her. She also had compassion for others and the desire to move past the path that was laid out for her.
While I felt there was a bit too much introspection in the form of a self-psychoanalysis, there were a lot of things I was able to take away from her situation and think about over and over. I feel the best audience for "To Have Not" is those who have also been in her shoes (maybe to a different extreme) or those who want to see how the other half live, in order to be grateful for being a "have."
From the moment I picked up "To Have Not" I was hooked. I couldn't wait to find out what the author was going to do next or what adventure she was about to embark on. I love the way Frances describes the streets, her surroundings, her life. I can actually picture the hilly San Francisco streets and asphalt schoolyards that she writes about. There is so much pain but also so much triumph and strength in her brightly colored story.
I don't think you have to have grown up poor or as a "have-not" to connect with this story or with the author. Frances writes honestly and sometimes a little detached, but it works so well. Frances had the courage to believe in herself and change her circumstances on her own. I thoroughly enjoyed "To Have Not" and didn't want the story to end! Thanks Frances!
Stay tuned for an interview with Frances Lefkowitz later this week, along with a book giveaway!