on Nov. 4, 2017 :
“The Blue Diary” by Shannon Allen truly packs a lot of emotion into a short piece. It is a slice of life from a woman recalling the diary she purchased shortly before her 11th birthday and wrote in when she was 11-12 years old.
It is the only diary the author still has in her possession, along with a couple of boxes of trinkets, souvenirs of events shared with special people and personal treasures from her past. Described in vivid detail, the author takes the reader right into her experience of purchasing the diary, admiring its design, writing in it and eventually reflecting on her entries from a more mature perspective as she has grown up.
Dedicated to Granny, her grandmother, the author lets us know how important Granny was to her at this time of her life: it was a time when the girl’s family had moved to a new town and she was also adjusting to being a latchkey kid because both of her parents had gone into the workforce.
One of her first entries is about a month before her 11th birthday. A key event of that time is a phone call from Granny, who advises that she might not be eleven again.
Then, in re-reading her entries, she reflects on how insubstantial some of her concerns back then appear compared to life today. But she is grateful that she has the diary because, in holding it, she really is eleven again. The diary takes the author right back in time, and the author takes the readers right back in time with her.
This is a very touching and gracefully constructed piece, sentimental in nature and nostalgic in tone. With adept skill, she moves through time seamlessly. The author uses succinct sentences and paragraphs, and the end result is both satisfying and a bit wistful. Ms. Allen has pulled the curtain back on a corner of her past, and I can’t wait to see what she decides to reveal next.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
on Oct. 2, 2017 :
I must admit that I am not a huge reader of memoirs. However, I was asked if I would be willing to read this one. I agreed and received a complimentary copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a positive review. This is a short memoir based on the memories of the author at a young age and is dedicated to her grandmother.
At the age of eleven Shannon (the author) kept a diary to record events she wanted to remember. This story gives us a glimpse into her thoughts and feelings of her younger self as she re-reads her entries now that she is older. As the story was short, I found it interesting to read, but it is more of a reminiscence than anything else. It only took me roughly ten minutes (if that) to read and didn't engage me emotionally. However, this is probably because I am used to reading novels rather than short stories.
After I finished this tale, I remembered that I tried to keep a diary as a child, but I never got the whole idea of writing down the events of the day. Most of the time I forgot to write in my diary and so it remained empty for the most part. I am envious of people being able to write their thoughts and feelings down every day. I'm generally too exhausted or have nothing of interest to say about the day's events now that I'm older to even consider keeping a diary. I'm sure reading back your diary's entries would bring back memories, but it would be the readers in the future who would probably be intrigued by the social aspects, or scratching their heads at some of the entries that wouldn't make sense to anyone but the writer of the diary.
Diaries are a snapshot into the social (mostly), as well as economic and political aspects of our lives. Today's diaries are now available in the virtual world as online blogs and vlogs. However, I feel there are some things that should never be made public. Diaries, blogs and vlogs can have both positive and negative aspects to their use. Future scholars may or may not find your diary, blog or vlog of great significance due to the contents. For the most part, it is still the best way to record your thoughts and feelings about the events (or non-events) that happen in your life. I wouldn't consider keeping one now, but I would encourage others to keep one if they feel the need to express their thoughts and feelings, either on paper or on a computer. It can be a useful tool for therapy or just to unload the detritus of everyday life. - Lynn Worton
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)
on Oct. 1, 2017 :
The Blue Diary piece brought back memories of my own childhood when I was ages seven through high school. I was touched by the author's perception of grandma calling to wish here a happy eleventh birthday. The importance of recording events and special people of so long ago needs to be preserved. Although long term memory is accurate and can be recorded after the fact, the little details recorded in those early days can fill in the gaps. However it is never too late to start a diary.
I hope Ms. Allen can give some specific examples of her early years to reaffirm the importance of recording these daily happenings. I enjoyed this lesson on keeping a diary as it reminded me of my grandmother. Photographs helped me as my mother was always snapping pictures.
The busyness of this day makes those long ago experiences when life was simpler, very precious.
The cover and internal photograph added much to this writing.
(reviewed the day of purchase)