Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made, is a memoir about Mary Pols getting pregnant completely accidentally at the age of 39, from what was meant to be a one-night stand. I got it off the library display case for New Nonfiction yesterday, and read it that evening. Because I like memoirs.
Well, I like memoirs but. I like memoirs, but books like this bring up all my serious, grave concerns about memoirs. On the one hand, I want them to be honest – I feel so let down when I discover that people have lied in memoirs I really enjoyed. And on the other hand, I don’t want them to be cruel. Whenever I read a memoir about someone’s dysfunctional family, I worry and worry and worry that they have made everything worse with their families by writing about them in this way. I’m sure it’s misplaced. I’m sure they’re all showing their memoirs to their families, and everyone has a good laugh because it’s all so true, and nobody’s feelings are hurt (much).
Mary Pols appears to be being incredibly honest in this book, my test of honesty being that she tells numerous stories that are not much to her credit. And parts of it are moving – particularly the scenes where she describes being with her siblings, and watching their parents die. However, I was fretting throughout most of this book about the way she portrayed her child’s father. As someone who is hugely influenced by the opinions of her parents, I am concerned for the kid to read this book someday. Maybe by then her relationship with the father will be completely different, but it will be too late. She’s already written a book about how he was totally unmotivated and irresponsible and she forced him to eat vegetables. And that is not what I would want to read about my parents. In fact it would upset me a lot.
Accidentally on Purpose was not a bad memoir. But my worries on the above-mentioned subject kept me from enjoying it. And it didn’t make me laugh out loud at any point, and it didn’t make me feel good at the end, and those are my two criteria for memoirs that I want to keep forever. (Expecting Adam did both. I loved Expecting Adam. Although I read it when I was much younger.)