This book was provided to me for review through NetGalley.
I am a big fan of memoirs. You could probably even call me a huge fan of them.
Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of Gawky.
I wanted to be, I really did. As a memoir fan, and a person of above average height myself, I felt like loving this book was a given. I sympathized with a lot of Margot’s feelings on size, and being taller than everyone else. I’m not as tall as she is, but I’m tall enough. With all of those positive marks in Gawky’s favor, it seemed like nothing could go wrong.
A lot of my problem was the writing itself. There is nothing wrong with Ms. Leitman’s writing, at least not technically (although I did catch a rather annoying error towards the end of the book, it IS an uncorrected proof, so I’m willing to let it slide for now). It was the slightly disjointed way the writing was assembled that bothered me. Things that really didn’t need to be repeated more than once were said many, many times, such as her issues with her teeth. There wasn’t enough emphasis put on the coming of age part of the story, and indeed, once she found her feet, so to speak, the story came to an abrupt end. It all felt kind of rushed, and because of that, it made the story itself feel shallow and not very well drawn. I think that a tighter edit would have lessened a lot of those issues.
In another way it almost seemed like the author was making a really big deal out of things that ultimately weren’t a big deal at all. In the midst of all the problems and klutzy episodes (and really, I expected more of them), she still had a lot of decent high school experiences. She had friends, friends with benefits, and a few adventures of varying levels of romantic success. It seemed like many of the things that were negative about her life were things that almost all teenagers deal with. Being a teenager makes them feel like they’re personal, and only happening to you, as I well remember. But the distance and experience that comes with living a few more years should make you realize that it generally wasn’t. I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to downplay, or dismiss, her experience. It just didn’t work well for me in the context of a published memoir.
One last, subjective complaint. I really expected a memoir by a comedian to be, well, funny. Or at least funnier. Gawky had its moments, but none of them were really laugh out loud funny.