I didn’t use to care much for memoirs or autobiographies. I knew they contained people’s experiences, and I delved into them once in a while, especially the more prominent titles, but inside I was craving fantasy. Fiction. Guilty pleasures. Anything to distract me from—real life. I didn’t want to think more about my own present and future, which is the effect memoirs tend to have on me.
But about two years ago, when COVID first hit, and I was homebound—the library I worked at closed, my university closed and publishing houses’ offices closed so they stopped sending me books to review—well, when that happened, I started to reflect quite a bit on my life. Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I living how I want to be living? And that’s when I started to develop a thirst for people’s stories, especially women’s stories.
Women’s stories help guide me in my life. I also was very lonely, even with some family around, so reading these books helped alleviate that loneliness, because a good memoir writer will open up to us, will share their lives with us and will give us access to some of their rawest and most intimate thoughts. I have started gaining quite a bit of respect for memoirists, a lot of whom started to feel like friends after reading their books.
I wanted to share this preamble to introduce Nichole Perkins because she has reminded me why I read memoirs in the first place. Nichole’s audacity, fierceness and self-reflection spoke to me. She isn’t afraid to discuss topics that women have been thought to keep quiet about or let the man speak about them, namely sex, power, fantasies and more. She also talks about topics deemed more traditionally feminine, like love, relationships and gender. And she certainly isn’t keeping quiet about the abuse she and her family have experienced.
But as intense as those topics are, and as intense as the atmosphere of this memoir can get, Nichole Perkins knows how to balance things out, by throwing a funny story here and there and by writing on pop culture of the early 2000s and before. She’s the reason why I even got the first four seasons of Cheers, after reading her praise for the show, and particularly for its spin-off, Frasier, both of which I intend to watch diligently and commit to memory.
I don’t think there’s anything Nichole wouldn’t talk about today, especially in the context of raising awareness on different issues or teaching women to take less bullshit from men, less responsibility for their actions, less disrespect, less objectification and much, much less guilt. While I was reading about the men that sexually or emotionally assaulted Nichole, betrayed, stalked or otherwise pushed her boundaries, I inevitably thought back to my own experiences with men and how I really did not have to take as much as I did. There is such great power in being able to walk away, say no and stick by our own values and boundaries. Reading this memoir simultaneously made me feel proud of Nichole’s awareness regarding her power as a woman, and made me want to dig deeper into my own.
Certainly, the fact that I just got the job I was hoping for and working towards for the past year does help in making me feel like I have great strength and determination in me, as well as belief in myself, much more than I usually feel. You know what they see, surround yourself with the kinds of people you want to be. Well I’d go even as far as to say that we as readers should surround ourselves as much as possible with the kinds of characters whose qualities we want to embody. So go ahead, surround yourself with Nichole Perkins as much as you can, because she will help you dip into that strong, confident woman you may sometimes forget you are.
Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review!