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Book Review: "Working on Me"

by Nikki Patin

Often how we come to experience other people’s lives is not by learning facts about them, but by listening to how they tell their stories. One fantastic example is Nikki Patin’s new memoir, WORKING ON ME. The creativity she used to explain the dysfunction she grew up with, and ultimately conquered, lit up my heart and mind in new ways.

Though she notes the roles people played in her youth, for example, like her mother, sibling and aunt, what proves really impactful are the nicknames she gives them and herself: Fat Brat, Pretty Mama, Nana Jazzy. Such titles demonstrate the flair — and acidity — of those around her. The author adds a further layer of complexity by giving each of them a point of view that allows us to get into their heads about what they feel and why they act as they do. By listening to them talk about the somewhat positive, but mostly negative forces that shaped them, we come to understand — if not condone — their behavior.

The book rings with themes that deeply resonated with me, and that probably do for most people: low self-esteem; body shame; lack of communication within families; negative emotions that build to the point of bursting. But what’s most miraculous about this book is the author’s unwillingness to remain in such a dark place of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Instead, we see her fight through one obstacle after another to lift herself up.

Beautifully written, this book is one that can inspires all of us to excise our demons in order to live happier lives.

You can also find this review on Goodreads.


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GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS, a resource for writers

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