KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Book Review — Malnourished by Cinthia Ritchie


Every book I read, at some point I ponder whether I want to write about the book — whether here on my blog or in an Amazon review. Rarely do I do so. My standard for trying to review a book or write about it is that it either has to just knock my socks off or be so horrible I need to trash it.

Cinthia is a blogger I started following a few years ago. I know she writes and gets a lot of things published by various outlets, but other than what she posts on her blog, I’ve never gone in search of her other pieces. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I’m just too lazy to go in search of those other places. And besides, as long as she keeps writing about Alaska and Arizona and her hikes and runs, and her dog Seriously, and shares pictures of moose on her blog — do I really need anything more.

Well, yes I do. She recently published a memoir — Malnourished: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Hunger. This is a thing I can find easily. My laziness is not an excuse.

I started reading Malnourished a couple of nights ago, after reading The Great Alone — a novel about Alaska, which given Cinthia’s residence in Alaska, was completely coincidental. (And, by the way, while I’ve got issues with The Great Alone, at the end of the day it was a really good read — the kind of life spanning tale filled with so much drama and trauma, you can’t help but feel something while reading.)

Back to Malnourished. When I started reading it, I only got through a couple of pages that first night. Why? Because it was late. I mean, my God, you can’t expect me to be able to stay up past 9:30 anymore, can you? Me neither. I was tired, it was time to close my eyes.

But I have to be honest, those first few pages left me less than thrilled. I wasn’t sure about how Cinthia approached telling her story. I tend to be a very ordered person. From point A to point B to point C and onwards to the end. Chronology matters to me. And what Cinthia does with Malnourished is to go more or less chronologically, but within that order, goes all over the place. Backwards and forwards and sideways and sometimes upside down. After those first few pages, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through.

The next night I read some more and found a rhythm in the way the story was told. I got to about 20% complete before sleepy time took over yet again.

Today, I left work early for a personal errand and started reading again during a late lunch. I came home, hoping for a nap, but continued reading and … well, there was no nap. There was just this need to read through the rest of Malnourished. It became one of those books that I simply could not put down. I wanted to get to the end. I wanted to see every word and experience everything Cinthia was willing to share with her readers.

Malnourished tells the tale of Cinthia’s childhood, her sisters, and the impacts the abuse and dysfunction she and her sisters experienced as children had on them (Cinthia and one sister in particular) through the course of years and decades. It is so honest and transparent, full of such pain and hurt, it is impossible to read this book without pondering a lot of things about the nature of family, and childhood, and how those two, which should be sanctuaries filled with love and security, all too frequently are not. Cinthia holds nothing back in describing how her childhood spread it’s damaging tentacles across many years of her adult life, and how the same experiences destroyed her sister.

It’s a gut wrenching story. But it’s honest, open, and real. Kudos to Cinthia for putting this story out there. For baring so much of her to tell the tale she had. It’s a story worth reading. Give it a try. There’s a lot of darkness in this story, but there is light as well if you look hard enough.

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