Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir

by Noelle Hancock

After losing her job and staring 30 in the face, Noelle Hancock is distraught and afraid, unsure what to do next. So she does what any unemployed, New York twenty-something would do, throws caution to the wind in an effort to "find herself." Using Eleanor Roosevelt as inspiration, Hancock embarks on an adventure of self-discovery and self-indulgence. Throughout her year of facing fear, Noelle learns to be a trapeze artist, goes shark diving, participates in a fighter pilot dog-fight, takes stripper classes, spends a week at a silent retreat, does stand-up comedy, runs naked through her apartment building, spends a week assisting in a funeral parlor in Ohio (because apparently none exist in NYC), climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro, and there's more! Hancock justifies her activities using various quotes or life examples from biographies of Ms. Roosevelt, which makes it all ok.

The events in My Year With Eleanor are so overly fantastical it's hard to believe it hasn't been embellished. I also really struggled with the author's flippancy toward money and expenses as she was a jobless New York City resident with no income during the height of the recession but had no problem going on these extravagant adventures and taking extremely costly trips. And despite her constant criticisms of her conservative and practical parents, who she looks down her nose at, she doesn't blink an eye when taking money from them to support her indulgence.

I enjoyed the references to Eleanor Roosevelt's life, but would have been better served just reading one of the biographies mentioned. Perhaps I'm too old for this book. Not to mention too conservative and practical!

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