Saturday, February 2, 2019

Book Review: 'ONE OF EVERYTHING' by Donna Carol Voss

Utah author Donna Carol Voss has elected to spill out a life of so many facets that it resembles a disco ball sending fragments of scattered moments spinning around a dance hall – but these fragments are biographical, real, learned, experienced moments n=in a life so wroth examining. Donna is a Berkeley grad, a former pagan, a ‘Mormon on purpose’, and a writer whose passion is people watching, uncovering their secrets and back stories, not unlike her own.

To say that Donna has experienced life would be an understatement – but the aspect of this book that makes the journey through all her sidebar excursions and momentary diversions is her style of clarity and openness in her writing. Few authors can walk through religious metamorphoses, tasting variations in sexuality, drugs and the ups and downs of marriages and even divorce and keep the reader on her side. As has been said, ‘If there are rays of sunshine anywhere near her, she has to be in them.’

In line with one isolated experience, she writes,’ I leave a lot of things behind in the Bay Area: drugs, cosmopolitan life, closed-toe shoes, and African-Americans in any great number. What – or who – I don’t manage to leave behind is Coral, not yet…she has no intention of leaving once we get to San Diego, that she will take care of me there like she took care of me at work, entirely against my will.’

Or better yet, as she summarizes this journey, ’The recipe for happily-ever-after? Start with one middle-class white girl in 1976. Add in her longing for love and acceptance, another middle-class white girl, a huge dollop of gossip, and excruciating peer and family pressure. Stir in youthful travel abroad, a Berkeley education, and a foray into paganism, drugs, marriage, and divorce. Whip until frothy with interracial and bisexual affairs, relationship violence, and exploration of multicultural mores. Season with salsa dancing. Temper with a segue into Mormonism. Decorate with a Temple wedding and garnish with motherhood to three adopted siblings.’

The older we grow the more fascinating memoirs become – with the added incentive to perhaps begin penning our own. That is the pleasure of reading ONE OF EVERYTHING. Enough said. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, April 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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