This book review of Are You Happy? A Childhood Remembered, by Emily Fox Gordon (daughter of a Williams economics professor) is not, uh, excessively complimentary.

Gordon offers us weighty insights as to how childhood perceptions shape us, but only in passing and too far along in the narrative. She writes lyrically and convincingly about the subtle joys of childhood in the second half of the book, showing us how our awareness dilates with age as we gain objectivity on our own lives. The writing in those moments is compelling and pristine. But alas, those instances come too late. Only hearty readers who insist on finishing books will get far enough to appreciate this memoir’s erratic moments of grace, buried as they are under the preceding pages of psychobabble and self-pity.


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