Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust
) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need “permission to take... a voyage of self-discovery.” The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to “read like a writer,” on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if “seated across the table from [your] best friend.” Raab covers big topics such as the “art and power of storytelling” and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of “finding your form.” Her attention to process, however, does not extend to enlisting publishers; in fact, Raab suggests that a good networker may not even need an agent, a far-fetched assertion for most aspiring writers that mars her otherwise encouraging work. [em](Sept.)
This review has been edited to reflect the ISBN of the paperback, rather than the hardcover, edition of the book.