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by Phyllis Barber

When Phyllis Barber’s thirty-three-year marriage ended, she had to redefine herself as a woman, a mother, and an artist. Raw Edges is her moving account of the “lean years” that followed her divorce. It is interwoven with a narrative of the marriage of two gifted people that begins with “sealing” in a Mormon temple, endures through the birth of four sons and the development of two careers, and founders when the couple’s personal needs no longer match their aspirations or the rigid strictures of Mormon life. Raw Edges reflects the predicament that many women experience as their marriages disintegrate and they fail to achieve their own expectations as well as those set by their society and their faith. It is also a story of hope, of how a woman overcome by grief and confusion eventually finds a new approach to life.

Download Raw Edges: A Memoir epub
ISBN: 087417807X
ISBN13: 978-0874178074
Category: Biographies
Subcategory: Specific Groups
Author: Phyllis Barber
Language: English
Publisher: University of Nevada Press (March 1, 2010)
Pages: 280 pages
ePUB size: 1145 kb
FB2 size: 1494 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 534
Other Formats: lrf docx doc lrf

This memoir had to have taken Ms. Barber a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to write. I read this book cover to cover and thought about it for weeks after finishing it. A month later I picked it up and read it all over again. Ms. Barber has woven inside themes in her life that at some point every reader will relate to. Much has been said about Barber's divorce and dealing with issues contrary to her Mormon faith. The beliefs of her ex-husband and all that came with them is laid out very well. It is understandable the way Ms. Barber wrestled the issues involved because her words invite you inside of her head and thought processes. What I found most compelling is the brutal honesty Ms. Barber pours out to her readers. This memoir has moved me in a way that no other has. It feels like I went on a literal journey with Ms. Barber as she rides her bike 1,000 miles across the country. What she went through physically (at times nothing less than torturous) was ultimately necessary for her to process the mental anguish she endured for at least 7 years (the lean years as she calls them). The bike riding journey is a story within other stories and it makes for a fascinating experience as a reader.

There were times when I had to put the book down while reading it because the emotional honesty was so intense. There are major issues of the human condition in the memoir that are addressed head on, no apologies. Raw and honest. Issues such as the death of a child, grief, guilt, the infidelity of a partner, depression, dealing with a complex and sometimes confusing religion and beliefs, the raising of children within a marriage riddled with complications. Then there is the woman behind a thin (and at times thick) mask who courageously looks at herself and her life and decides to start again. The strength and sheer will of Ms. Barber to look at and come face to face with her inner demons and battles is matched by very few people I know in this world. In mid-life Barber reinvents herself and yet still holds onto what her soul needs to keep a foundation (perhaps a cracked foundation), but as Leonard Cohen says about cracks, "that's how the light gets in." Ms. Barber's light never leaves her even in her darkest hours.

Then there is the beauty of her writing, Ms. Barber takes writing to a poetic and at times inspirational level. I found the last quarter of the book extremely relatable personally. At one point Barber is talking about watching nesting dolls being pulled apart. She writes about this, "Was it possible for humans to disassemble themselves and eventually find a pure self? What was the truth of these nesting realities? Was there a seventh, ninth, or eleventh self in each of us that was the real thing? Or were all the selves the real thing? Maybe there was only a mysterious river of divine liquid flowing through the terrain of everything. The core may not be solid after all. It may melt into the river of everywhere, everything and everyone." This kind of depth and philosophical nature is woven poignantly throughout the book

Sometimes I wonder how so many people come to such different conclusions about the same, any book. It is like everything in life, our perceptions are different because of who we are and what we have experienced and how we interact in the world. For me this book is very powerful and I know I will read it over again many more times in my life. I relate to Ms. Barber in many ways even though my life is very different than hers. I highly recommend buying this book and reading it and it may just open your eyes to your own shadow selves, at the very least it will inspire you to question your own choices and direction your life is taking. This book is well worth your time and effort, it has a way of engaging you to question your own life more closely. I am certainly very inspired by reading this extraordinary memoir. Thank you Phillis Barber. Thank you.
Barber weaves together so many aspects of her life -- the emotional, sexual, athletic, religious, professional. It all comes out as a compelling stream of stories that fit together like a big puzzle and add up to more than the sum of their parts. I read it in only a few days, drawn back to it over and over to find out not only what happened next but also what it would all mean in the end, and I was very satisfied.
I wanted to like this book since I am a Mormon woman who is about the same age as Phyllis. But I could not fathom where in the world she was coming from! No woman in the LDS Church is told to stand by a lying, cheating husband; furthermore, every individual in the Church is responsible for her or his own life here and in eternity. Feminism, too, was in full swing during this time--was Phyllis not aware of the many "sisters" who would have helped her get away from this selfish man?. David--what a pathetic egomaniac!--decides polygamy is the right thing (but never bothers to join some splinter group to prove even that) just because he can't control his sexual urges. Both of them seemed to be using the Church as a scapegoat for their own weaknesses. Or maybe they really just didn't want to abide by its precepts. The italicized self-pitying parts that seemed to be obsessively concerned with what everyone would think were especially hard for me to plow through. People make mistakes all the time. Others forgive them. Certainly someone who has the mind that Phyllis must have in order to organize her thoughts and put them on paper, would have more sense than the woman in this memoir! Enough already!
Raw Edges by Phyllis Barber is the true story of one woman's search for herself after half a lifetime of trying to live within the lines. When the author finally accepts the truth of her life and rejects all notions of how life should be but really isn't, she transforms into a stronger and wiser woman. But the simple, straight and true path of Mormon ideals and decades spent conforming to social norms and mores leads to living life in a constant state of deceit. While honesty existed between husband and wife, Phyllis tried to force an outward appearance that fit within the dictates of her religion. The book is replete with moments of insight and self discovery. Phyllis, however, does not get there without a great internal battle and this battle is interwoven through the difficult years after the dissolution of her brief second marriage. Set in a Denver attic in 2002, Phyllis writes of the depression in poignant terms. "But still, when I climbed the three flights of stairs, untied my shoes, and then scrubbed the burnt oatmeal from the bottom of the pan, I knew I was falling into a deep hole again, the thousands-of-feet-deep hole. The place that was dark, dank, and oozy. I'd never seen any handholds, footholds or ladders out of that hole. No exits. I felt armless, legless. My bones were cottage cheese when I fell into that negative space. I wanted to escape before I fell into that place again, maybe even cash in my chips, Nevada girl that I was." Beautiful narrative, filled with memories associated with food - comfort food. Every word shows how her mind was trying to save itself, trying to explain herself to herself. Phyllis had reached the middle of her life only to face the fact that she didn't know herself and needed to start over. Raw Edges is aptly named. Phyllis, after discovering her life cannot be walked in one straight line, decides to embark on the journey basically because there is no way to avoid it. The straight and narrow path she thought was hers in life turned out to be a dead end. The story draws the reader in and I believe can serve to help others who are facing similar challenges.