Musical Chairs: A Memoir by Jen Knox (All Things That Matter Press, $16.99)
Jen Knox’s first book Musical Chairs is difficult to describe.
What is the likely fate of a young girl who comes from a family with a history of runaways, mental illness, and substance abuse? It is more likely than not that their adolescence will be rife with incident, but to succumb to all three and then manage to out-do the rest by becoming a stripper on top of it? That is the unlikely, but true, story of Jen Knox.
Readers seem to gravitate toward memoirs, especially in recent years, and especially if they tell the story of overcoming difficulties such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and the like. Those people will like this book, although it is difficult to figure out exactly why someone would want to expose themselves to this type of content.
What is admirable about this effort is the objectivity with which the author portrays the events of her life. She does not try to blame others or elicit pity for herself. This third person telling of a first person story, while unique, may leave some readers wanting more: more of the inner thoughts, the perceived reasons behind the behaviors, the emotional reactions that have undoubtedly surfaced upon reflection, etc. In this way the book may fall a bit short.
There’s a sense of rushing through some of the events in the author’s life. The book is sparse (176 pages) and takes the reader through a decade. It causes one to wonder if there’s more to the brutal vignettes outlined in these pages that the author has yet to quite work through.
The book is written in three sections: Runaway, Dancer, and The Education. The reader learns of some of the encounters with shady characters during the dancing era; follows the author through a variety of dead end jobs and temporary residences; and, eventually, learns more about her mysterious grandmother and catches glimpses of the relationship between her and her eventual soul mate, Chris.
This is a solid first effort, if not a great one. Several episodes of the author’s life seem to cry out for more detail or explanation; although this may be intentional. In fact, it appears that Knox wanted it this way.
Many readers may want more, and some will be disturbed enough as it is. Most will be happy that the author’s life has come together. Ms. Knox should be. The vast majority of the people who find themselves in similar shoes are not so lucky.
A review copy was received from the author. Musical Chairs is also available in Kindle and Nook Book editions.