By all accounts, Sparrow Spaulding had a wonderful early life filled with a loving and caring family. Unfortunately, it all came to a screeching halt at the tender age of three when she was kidnapped and taken from her mother for over a year. The after effects of this traumatic event followed her throughout her life.
Author Sparrow Spaulding skillfully pens a raw, no-holds-barred account of her life after her return to her mother, who, despite being a beautiful woman, suffered from a mental illness that left her unable to truly meet the physical and emotional needs of any of her children, including Sparrow. A mother who was more concerned with her numerous husbands, cigarettes and prescription medications than with providing a clean, loving home. Meanwhile, her father, who suffered from his own quirky issues, divorced her mother, and moved onto a new life that included several moves over the years, and a new stepmother for Sparrow and her siblings. Visiting them every summer was also a mix of both negative and positive experiences, that eventually grew to being mostly positive, as Sparrow matured.
What this reader particularly found refreshing while reading Riding Standing Up, is that the author, despite being raised in an obviously dysfunctional family by less than stellar parents (she once compared her family to the Munsters, where she felt like Marilyn, the only normal one), still managed to pull herself up by her bootstraps and persevered. There is no wallowing in self-pity, and the author is not looking for sympathy when she recounts the often horrifying, yet sometimes a bit funny, events in her childhood.
Sparrow Spaulding’s writing is excellent and she is wonderfully adept at recounting the events in her life so vividly that you will feel like you’re experiencing all of her highs, lows, and even the “melty moments” as you follow along. A few readers may get lost somewhere in the middle of this memoir when the author describes the antics of her teenage years, riddled with boys and sex, but this should not dissuade anyone from diving into this memoir and experiencing every chapter. In fact, this book is for everyone, regardless of their own childhood. Even if you had a fairytale experience, you may learn something about someone else’s experiences that you will find inspiring in your current life. Those readers with their own imperfect upbringings will be comforted knowing that, despite living in chaos and drama, you’re not alone and you can successfully move past the hard times and come out, perhaps a bit banged up, but still stronger in the end.
Quill says: Riding Standing Up is a gritty, coming-of-age memoir filled with bits of love and heartache, but most importantly perseverance.