BOOK REVIEW: A Parallel Life by Bonnie Greer (Publisher: Arcadia Books 2014)

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Award-winning playwright, author and critic Bonnie Greer gives a candid account of her life in this first volume of her memoir. Born in in 1948, Chicago, USA, Bonnie humourously describes how her parents named her after Prince Charles but because she was born some hours later than him as a punishment she had to celebrate his birthday each year as her ‘delay’ prevented her parents from winning a free supply of diapers!

Bonnie shares her experiences of living through some of the most important times in history such as the freedom marches she actively took part in with other students during the Civil Rights Movement. Some interesting thoughts are given on the assassinations of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and US President John F Kennedy while also reflecting on the global fascination with the culture and music behind the ‘swinging sixties.’

Bonnie recalls her need to leave home at an early age in order to escape what she saw as the traditional trapped lives her parents lived (hardworking stay at home mother; industrious bread winning father) to pursue her interests in writing and theatre.

Along the journey Bonnie finds herself working in restaurants and at one stage a bar where she done topless dancing to fund her university tuition fees.

Throughout the memoir Bonnie weaves into her story the music of the time from the jazz infused Chicago Blues, to Swinging Sixties Beatle Mania, to Curtis Mayfield anthems during the Black Panther and Civil Rights Movements.

The memoir ends in 1978. Bonnie at 30 years old finds herself at a crossroad, single, unmarried and without children. As she leaves Chicago and all that is familiar to her she journeys on to New York hoping to find herself.

A very interesting, humourous and insightful first volume which leaves readers eager to find out what happens next!

© Copyright 2014, Darell J Philip

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