Our bloggy buddy Andra Watkins did something remarkable to promote her first book, and in the process she challenged her relationship with Roy, her dad. Not Without My Father is a result.
Andra walked the length of the Natchez Trace, as had her characters in ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis‘. She did the walking, took the pictures, wrote the blog posts, made the videos, dealt with painful feet and painful truths. Roy did the talking, selling of the books, and the farting. Not Without My Father tells their tales, wonderfully. There’s even a soundtrack- Elvis, Johnny Cash, Everything but the Girl, The Bangles… All the senses are engaged by this memoir. I loved it.
Both my parents are dead; this book made me pause many times to think of them, to reflect on differences, to miss them. I miss being annoyed by them, I miss the anxiety they cause. I miss just being able to hug them, and stop time.
This is not a sweetness and light memoir. Roy is maddening. Andra is suffering physically and wondering what in god’s name she’s doing, and why. (It’s so frustrating when the only person you can blame for a goofy idea is yourself.)
The story is told by Andra, and by her versions of Roy’s stories. She tells us about Roy beautifully, with love and empathy and understanding, all the while being mad at him. Because that’s what families do.
There are many characters in the memoir, supporting, selling, watching from a distance, travelling to be with her. Andra discovers unexpected community, as well as the complexities, difficulties and delights of the Trace itself.
As a journey of discovery along the Trace, looking for a father and finding adventure, ‘Not Without My Father’ is a companion piece to ‘To Live Forever’, but can be enjoyed without having read the novel in advance. But you’ll want to read the novel next…
I read an Advance Reading Copy of Not Without My Father.; I’ve also bought a kindle version, because this book is worthy of rereading. I’ve commented on To Live Forever & Andra’s journey here. Andra is the real deal. Don’t miss out.