Review Roundup: Jeanette Winterson’s Childhood Memoir,The Heartbreaking Life of Clover Adams, and Mikey Walsh’s “Gypsy Boy”

"Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" by Jeanette Winterson

Zoe Williams of The Guardian is moved by the "urgency" and "emotional force" of Winterson's memoir, noting how "this is certainly the most moving book of Winterson's I have ever read, and it also feels like the most turbulent and the least controlled." Singing with sympathy, June Thomas at Slate also finds much to praise in Winterson's debut stab at what is ostensibly nonfiction: "Never has anyone so outsized and exceptional struggled through such remembered pain to discover how intensely ordinary she was meant to be." As Winterson writes to exorcise the demons of her past, she inevitably begins to embrace them. Arifa Akbar of The Telegraph finds Winterson's writing "compelling," and if it began "as a final exorcism of the monster mother, it ends with a moving acceptance of her."
Bio-Metric: 5/5

"Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life" by Natalie Dykstra

"Though Dykstra wants to narrate Clover’s story as she lived it, her suicide shades every gesture, every mood, every lacuna in her short life," writes Brenda Wineapple of The New York Times. Dykstra employs her account " the sort of detail that distinguishes this biography from earlier ones." To Patricia O'Toole of The Wall Street Journal, Dykstra's pen is steeped in speculation: With "'may haves' and 'perhapses' and rhetorical questions...the conjecture often grows so convoluted that the reader struggles to form even the most tentative conclusion." Still, O'Toole enjoyed the "fresh perspectives" that Dykstra limns from the photographs complementing the text.
Bio-Metric: 3.5/5 stars

"Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies" by Mikey Walsh

In this "sobering and compelling portrait of Gypsy life," writes Joan Oleck of The National, Walsh retells "memories [that] are difficult to read and, like a road accident, hard to look away from - Walsh is that good a writer." "Frightening and funny" is the consensus from Dwight Garner of The New York Times. Bemoaning any "real graininess or depth," Garner is still hit by the literary pluckiness: "The author may not be much of a fighter, but on the page a lot of his punches land." Marcela Valdes of The Washington Post writes how Walsh "exposes disturbing connections between culture and abuse" in what is ultimately a "blunt" and "cathartic" memoir.
Bio-Metric: 4.5/5