Thank you so much to author Jay Armstrong for providing me with a copy of Bedtime Stories for the Living in exchange for this honest review.
Reviews on memoirs are a bit strange to write. It kinda feels like you’re reviewing someone’s life. I try to make it clear that I’m reviewing a memoir based on its merit as a book and not a reflection of the individual who lived the story. Sometimes it’s hard to actually make that separation. Luckily, this memoir is about a likable fella who anyone would want to spend an afternoon with.
Jay Armstrong is essentially an every man. He was an English teacher who brought a sense of humor and innovation to the classroom in a perpetual mission to engage teenagers in lessons. He is a father and husband. The factor that sets him apart is that he has a rare degenerative brain disorder called cerebellar atrophy in which he basically has a hole in his brain that could keep getting bigger as he ages.
This condition causes physical problems such as loss of motor control. For a former athlete and anyone who wants to play catch with their kids, this is heartbreaking. But Armstrong tries to keep things on the high road and decided to not be buried under the bad news in his life.
He started a blog called Write on Fight on in which he catalogues his stories living with cerebellar atrophy for anyone to read. This site serves as a place for anyone with a similar to condition to see that they’re not alone as well as for any loved ones and caretakers to glean some insight that could help keep their relationships strong with these individuals.
Bedtime Stories for the Living is a memoir but it is also written as love letters to the author’s children. He acknowledges that he could have been a more attentive father when the kids were younger and yearns to make up for it now. The stories in this book are the ones he should have told them at their bedsides far earlier in life.
When reading this nonfiction book it’s important to understand that this book is not for us. It is, above all else, for Armstrong’s children. The way that the book is written is with them in mind and he also makes it clear that should this book make a profit that will go to them as well. We’re along for the ride but not active participants.
But it is heartfelt and honest. It’s a memoir from someone we could know. Down to earth and completely in touch with how an internal struggle shapes the world around an individual and vice versa. We may know people who have physical ailments that haven’t fully presented yet, kept a secret so that people don’t treat them differently. The lesson to take away from Bedtime Stories for the Living is not to treat anyone differently and not to judge a person based on a diagnosis.
Buy this memoir so Armstrong can pay his medical bills and send his kids to college, read it because it’s tender and great example of a great father.
4/5 story books 📖📖📖📖
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For more nonfiction that contains valuable life advice check out How to be an Anti-Racist