True to Herself:
One Vermont Writer's Lifetime of Making Good Things from Bad

by Alison Kirk

Createspace, 2012. ISBN 978-1-479-15124-0.
Reviewed by Khadijah A.
Posted on 12/30/2014

Nonfiction: Memoir

True to Herself: One Vermont Writer's Lifetime of Making Good Things from Bad came at just the right time for me. Things around the house were busy, people coming in and out, and I was feeling frazzled and missing the time I needed to sit down and read anything of any great length. Alison Kirk's collection of essays, however, provided me with bite sized morsels of goodness—think chocolate chip cookies here, or maybe lemon bars—that allowed me to relax and lose myself for a few minutes here and there, possibly keeping me sane.

Kirk says in her author's note:

I am making my personal experience public in the hope of giving encouragement to creative people who often feel out of place, to those who value their environment and relationships, to women in personal and professional conflict, and to those who like to think things can work out after all.

Apparently Kirk wrote the book for me and those like me. Her voice is comfortable yet strong, witty and evocative as she offers us glimpses into her life at almost every stage. Her connection to place is palpable, as is her commitment to turning situations that are difficult into something positive in the long run. Some of the essays in the book read like interesting newspaper columns, while others are more in depth and personal. The organization of the book is a little confusing at first, but once the reader dives in it is easy to see the pattern among the smaller pieces.

Like a favorite aunt, Kirk shares her experiences and wisdom with us bit by bit until we realize we have something valuable in our hands that may just lead us to our own answers.

Alison Kirk lives with her husband and the family Lab-mix in Middlebury, Vermont, where she enjoys her garden, kitchen, music, books, family, and friends. Author of close to two hundred published essays and articles and numerous books "for hire," her double-edged satire, Learning and the Marketplace: A Philosophical, Cross Cultural (and Occasionally Irreverent) Guide for Business and Academe, was published by Southern Illinois University Press. She has been a teacher and administrator at several schools and colleges and is now happily retired.

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