Where Honesty Never Ends.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Life of Soul Searching & Self Discovery:
From Depression and Betrayal to “First Lady of the World”
Howdy everyone! Ova Veugh here. I’ve been summoned on this review of “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Life of Soul Searching and Self Discovery.” Try saying that five times fast!
Um…never mind. Before we get to the reviews, let’s hear from Mr. Controversy what the book is about and a special alert.
Controversy: “ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S LIFE OF SOUL SEARCHING AND SELF DISCOVERY: From Depression and Betrayal to First Lady of the World” is a 104-page write by Ann Atkins. This book examines the highs and lows in the life of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.
*SPOILER ALERT (as if we need one)*
Despite all that she has experienced in her life, Mrs. Roosevelt persevered; staring deeply into the abyss that was her loveless relationship with her mother, her drunkard womanizer of a father, and the destruction of her familial structure, only to become a well-versed, strong minded incredible woman who informed not only the Nation but the World, while facing Adversity and stomped it in the balls while becoming the darling of all whom she had touched.
Ova: First things first: What did everyone like about the book? (aka “The Pros”)
Unleashed: I can’t do too much complaining about this work from a visual perspective. There were little to no hiccups in spelling, grammar, or punctuation.
Controversy: Writing wise, I am glad that I saw the sentences ending in a noun or a verb; that is huge for me whenever I read works by anyone.
Ova: Any more pros you’d like to add?
Controversy: The ONLY THINGS that I enjoyed were the pictures and the quotes.
Truth: Yes, it has some nice pictures, and I learned ONE (that’s right, just ONE) new thing I didn’t know before about Mrs. Roosevelt.
Unleashed: Brownie Points for Documentation–The author demonstrated she knows the proper way to cite references. That, and the bibliography page were definite advantages. Oh, kudos to the pictures, too.
Ova: Does the fact that there are a handful of things listed as pros mean trouble for this work? Do I even want to travel further?
Unleashed: This calls for the Bat signal.
Ova: Oh, dear! Are we in for another doozy? Let’s delve into it. Were there any areas that needed improvement?
Truth: I would like to say that I struggled with what to say about this book. All of the ‘nice’ things were covered in the pros. It’s difficult to say something truly constructive about a read like this, as all you can think is “Why?!” (PS: The erroneous punctuation is on purpose.)
I’m still flabbergasted!
Unleashed: Well, for starters: What The Tense?
Okay. It appears that present tense is a surging wave in the writing world. On some works, it is even passable. Not on a work that’s a nonfictional account of a person’s life who is already dead.
Controversy: Yes. The use of Present Tense throughout the read as if the events are happening at this time was EXCRUCIATING!! AND THEN there is the GLARING boil that is the reference used on the bottom of page 37 of the PDF File. I am not going to quote it but I cannot say the same for the other two reviewers.
TO ME, I am struggling to figure out if said reference is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. I may need Schrödinger’s Cat to figure out if Mrs. Roosevelt’s actions were either a Compliment or an Insult (Ms. Atkins can certainly clarify if the reference is either Good or Bad).
Ova: A boil? What boil?
Unleashed (continuing): Let’s not jump the gun, Ova. We will get to the part Mr. Controversy is hinting at. However, I am still caught up on this present tense nonsense. When I first started reading this, I believed it was simply a tense error. All the history books I’ve ever read have been in past tense. Why? Because the events happened in the past.
But then I noticed throughout the read (with the exception of slip ups in sections 13 and 14), it stayed in present tense.
Did I misread the blurb and this was actually a work of fantasy fiction? The author would have had to utilize a time machine to make present tense even workable, and even so…still not quite buying it.
Truth: I definitely agree!
Why would a person write a biography–at all, let alone on an iconic figure like Mrs. Roosevelt–in 1st person? It makes no sense WHATSOEVER! This is a BIOGRAPHY not a novel! It’s an unspoken rule that biographies are written in 3rd person. Why? Because it makes sense that way! Past event, past writing! Easy!
Example: Chapter 11, first paragraph reads “On April 12, 1945, Franklin is in his fourth term as president. WWII is still raging, although it will be over this summer.”
99.9% of the book felt like a High School essay, with an amazing job of cut and paste.
Let me explain.
Imagine being in High School and having to do an essay/project on Mrs. Roosevelt. The last thing you want to do is read book after book, so you decide to go for gold. You pick up Mrs. Roosevelt’s autobiography!
Copy and paste as much information as you can about Mrs. Roosevelt. That’ll give you a guaranteed A! Right? Wrong!
Unleashed: In addition, if this book is used as any type of reference guide or teaching tool, it causes way too much confusion because of the tense. It definitely was one of the deterrents that kept me from fully engaging in this story.
Ova: Any other head scratching moments?
Truth: WHY IN SAM HELL would a person write a biography when an AUTOBIOGRAPHY already exists? I mean, UNLESS, some new information has surfaced that no one knew about. THEN, you might get away with it.
Unleashed: Indeed. Why even do a biography on her where lines from the autobiography are quoted and referenced in this work? I kid you not. Plus I wasn’t provided much in terms of new information.
Ova: Could there possibly be even more to say?
Truth: You don’t even know! (in Dane Cook voice)
Unleashed: Another thing that made me scratch my head in disbelief was the “Reflections of the Reader” segment at the end of each part. The author took modern-day scenarios and used them to illustrate points she made about Eleanor’s life.
I have a few questions:
(1) If these are supposed to be “Reflections of the Reader” why is so much of the “author’s opinions” in it? Shouldn’t the reader be able to come up with his or her own conclusions without the author’s persuasive input? The author should have just named this segment “My Reflections (and if you don’t like them, too damn bad).”
Side Note: Rocky kept getting mentioned quite a bit in this book. Why not throw in some “Eye of the Tiger”? Makes no sense but hey at least you’re entertained.
(2) Why were there such absurd comparisons being placed at the end of each part? One in particular spoke of Rocky’s bond with Adrian to measure the level of betrayal Eleanor felt in regards to Franklin’s infidelity. Also, at the end where Star Trek was quoted and how the journey into space mirrored Eleanor’s achievements in the United Nations. Then the author wondered how famous or productive Eleanor would be if she had a Facebook, comparing her to the current First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
Seriously? I almost expected the author to make reference to Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, too.
Side Note: Thank Goodness this is a fake Tweet. Any resemblance to an actual Tweet is completely coincidental and unintentional.
Yet if the author would have done that, I would have been very tempted to fling my tablet. Since I received the tablet as a gift that would have been a very bad idea.
Truth: Now, this bit, I just couldn’t get past…
This person chose to use current day, as well as unhinged analogies to describe her thoughts about Mrs. Roosevelt. Things like Facebook, Rocky (the movie), The Wizard of Oz and Star Trek.
“In today’s terms this would be comparable to Michelle Obama having a daily blog. Imagine Eleanor with a Facebook page.“
Sorry, current First Lady. Couldn’t resist.
Ova: So that is the “boil”! Oops sorry, you were saying?
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before…“
Eleanor, The Final Frontier?
OH, OH, WAIT! Here is one of my personal favorites:
“A king’s castle–a moat, protective high walls, guards in watch towers. He is surrounded by people he can trust. He is safe to let his guard down, scratch his balls and drink grog with his cronies.“
THIS is what was used to describe Mrs. Roosevelt’s need for a sanctuary of her own. A place where she can “scratch her balls“! Enough said!
Ova: Any more whoops?
Truth: The very last chapter’s title says, and I quote, “14 Elanor… The Chapter title is not a typo.” Um. Okay. Is it just me, or is that a little weird? If you intended on misspelling her name as the chapter title, then let it be. Why are you trying to explain yourself?
Ova: What other things caused the disenchantment?
Truth: There was also a certain ‘feel’ in the prose, that made me get the sense that the author was trying her best to brainwash the reader, if you will–to see Mrs. Roosevelt as a victim. She kept referring to President Roosevelt’s womanizing ways, his mother’s manipulating ways, and things of the sort.
Now, let me be clear. Anyone who has read about Mrs. Roosevelt knows that she was a woman of great suffering, and she did not have it easy. However, I believe that if/when a biography is written that the person writing it should do so in an objective manner. Do not try to influence the reader with your opinion; let them make one for themselves.
Unleashed: When I’m reading something that is nonfiction, I like a level of objectivity while being able to convey the facts. This read more like a love letter or worship of Eleanor Roosevelt.
I’m not condoning Franklin Roosevelt’s treatment of Eleanor nor trying to downplay what Eleanor went through. All I am trying to say is: must Eleanor Roosevelt be romanticized and Franklin Roosevelt be the low down dirty dog? Although I am appreciative that so many people have taken an interest in the Roosevelt family, they have been written about to death. In some works the authors are taking sides and passing it off as accurate representations of history. This author did the same thing, It really does a great disservice to the memory of the Roosevelt legacy.
If the author wants to do this type of stance on Eleanor Roosevelt, it would have made more sense to write it as a work of fiction or in the form of a persuasive essay. This felt like certain portions were taken out that fitted the author’s viewpoint of Eleanor. After they were extracted, she put them together to create this book.
In its current presentation, I could not fully support the conveyance. My respect for Eleanor Roosevelt’s struggle through life should come from my own interpretation not from the idea of empathy to be sold to me through the author.
Ova: How do you guys rank this particular work?
Controversy: I’m going to be honest: I did not like this read at all. I was looking for SO MUCH MORE as far as depth, insight, and understanding of this dynamic woman. I was left very disappointed due to the presentation of Mrs. Roosevelt by Ms. Atkins. She was portrayed as meek, weak, and used like a sanitary napkin to where no one would care to recycle her. That, along with what was mentioned earlier, took away from the read and caused further heartbreak for me. If you want to read it, that is up to you. SURVEY SAYS: 3 out of 10 Stars.
Truth: Gosh, I really can go on and on about the downfalls of this book, however I’ll just say, I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT! I was extremely let down! 4 TRB stars.
Unleashed: This gets 4 out of 10 TRB Stars. Despite the near perfection in grammar and punctuation, it was not strong enough to override the other elements. The author tried too hard to modernize Eleanor’s struggles to the readers. In her attempts to garner more support, this approach distracted (and took away) from the richness of Eleanor’s character. The marketing of this in present tense crippled the potential success of this work. When it comes to finding an objective account of Eleanor Roosevelt, it is best that this work remain undiscovered.
Ova: All right. Let’s take these scores and divide by three.
Overall, this work receives 3.67 which one can round up to 4 out of 10 TRB Stars.
Thanks for checking out The Review Board. Feel free to like, share and subscribe. Have a terrific day!
I’m Ova and out!