Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Flashbacks by Morgan Smith *****

Along with Benjamin Franklin, Anne Frank, and Henry David Thoreau, you should add Morgan Smith. Flashbacks by Morgan Smith has the two key attributes of a "must read" memoir. First, it is placed in an interesting time. In this case, the 1960s. But most important, a fascinating person has written it, one who is simultaneously unique and universal.

The author's grade school education (elementary through high school) encompassed the 1960s. As she recounts her life, she casts a bright light on the not only her cohort but also the cohort of her parents. People decades older than the author will recognize themselves, their parents, and their children. On one level this is a memoir of the 60s from the point of view of a precocious child. This is a story of the childhood that many wished for.

In kindergarten, the author organized a mini-protest against an antisemitic teacher. Here is a story of the ur-demonstration of civil disobedience organized by innocent children. Her mother's response?
"She emphasized that I did the right thing by not listening to Teacher and standing up for Justice, even if, normally, disobeying Teacher would be wrong."
Isn't this the story we all wish we could tell, and we all want to celebrate we live in a world where this story can be believed.

To add to the idyllic story...
"Life in my home operated on two basic principles: Benign Neglect and Books."
For a celebration of intelligent, independent children, this is a memoir for the ages.

If you read Summerhill by A S Neill, this is the practical companion to the theory of child-directed education. This is the case for free-range children.

Through the author's formative years she has magical memories. Memories all might wish for themselves, their children, or anyone.

Her mother advocates for justices, her father for science, and she herself navigates all counter-forces with compassion and humor.

When her friendship with another girl is challenged by a bigoted classmate, she formulates the perfect response:
"If I refused to be friends with everyone who is prettier and smarter and more talented than me, I'd be a very lonely girl, wouldn't I?"
Somehow in an environment of freedom and books, the author grows up confident and capable.
"No one doubted for a moment that I wasn't perfectly capable of it."
These examples could go on forever. Just read the book and add it to your list of important memoirs.

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