Truth is the best story
Few things sting more than a betrayal but when you’re a teenager it’s brutal.
Having to decide who you are and who you want to be is a tough job and often your right to privacy becomes your most important weapon. Who doesn’t remember screaming matches with their parents about what they should be entitled to?
So 20 year old Jake Myerson’s reaction to his mother’s book “The Lost Child” a story of his teenage struggle with drugs - that ended with his parents kicking him out of the house - isn’t surprising:
“What she has done has taken the very worst years of my life and cleverly blended it into a work of art. I was only 17, I was a confused teenager, I was too young really to know who I was or what was happening,” he said in an exclusive interview with UK newspaper The Daily Mail.
But what puzzles me is that the book has put Myerson and to a lesser extent her husband in the sights of the ethical public firing squad.
One critic was so outraged by Myerson’s publication of the book and her actions that she accused her of neglect. Another claimed “her hunger for a good book made her a bad mother’.
A stack of other similar comments have led Myerson legging it to publishers in the US this month to find a more supportive market for a book that was first and foremost to help other people suffering through a similar experience.
Myerson didn’t name her son in the book and she also claims to have given him an opportunity to read it and approve before it was published. Although important, Jake’s battle with drugs is only one part of a story that also reveals the toll it took on their family.
And that’s the real truth of this story.
As Jerry Waxler writes in his blog Memory Writers Network some of the best writing comes from what is true and memoirs are a great way to heal and make sense of difficult events and situations.
“To find my way out of the mental loop of my memories, I recast them into a story, and let the story make sense of them for me,” he said.
Myerson’s husband writing his own piece for The Guardian that defended his wife said:
“This is an emergency. True, the city is not aflame, plague is not afoot. But there are too many families whose home life has been shattered by a teenage son (it is nearly always boys) who is losing it as a result of cannabis. Maybe not as badly as ours has lost it, but nevertheless creating chaos and distress.”
It seems to me that their only crime was to write a story they genuinely believed would help others. So why not give them a chance?
What’s your view? Do you think there should be a line on writing about family members or do you think what the Myerson’s did was right?
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