Jamie Lynn Sokoloff opens PERSEVERING FOR PEACE: A Guide to Finding the Light in the Darkest of Times, her memoir/self-improvement book, with this author’s note: “‘After everything this year has thrown your family this year [sic], you should write a book.’ After hearing this for the 10th time, I decided to give it a try.”
“I lived a privileged life,” Sokoloff admits at the outset. “My parents always had money, and I always had new clothes. I have never experienced hunger or neglect. My parents were so full of love and supported me with anything I pursued. They had a big house, a pool, and always had new cars.” Readers learn that the author is a naturalist, a vegan, an animal lover, and that her boyfriend Jesse is amazing. However, in 2020, as COVID-19 rocked the world, the 27-year-old Ontarian suffered two personal tragedies. First, her father died of a heart attack while on vacation in Bora Bora. A few months later, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. PERSEVERING FOR PEACE, which takes its title from one of Sokoloff’s father’s personal mantras–“Persevere”–is the story of the family’s journey through grief and self-discovery.
Sokoloff is an engaging narrator and a deep thinker. Yet the dual structure of this book–memoir plus self-help–doesn’t always work. Most chapters end with exercises in self-reflection, like “What are your talents?” and “How can you be more confident and secure with yourself?” It isn’t clear, however, what grief has to do with talent or confidence. She also discusses her father’s “life lessons,” adages such as “Stop feeling sorry for yourself”; “If you can dream it, you can do it”; and “Life life without regrets.” Wouldn’t it be better to show the reader scenes of her father putting these principles into action rather than telling us about them? Sokoloff tried her best to honor her father’s memory, and her friends’ exhortations, by telling her story. What she forgot was a lesson all writers have to learn: let the story speak for itself.
In PERSEVERING FOR PEACE, a sometimes stirring, sometimes didactic memoir, Jamie Lynn Sokoloff tells of her family’s long struggle to overcome back-to-back tragedies.
~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader