Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Never Promised You a Goody Bag

I Never Promised You a Goody Bag: A Memoir of Life Through Events - the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't, by Jennifer Gilbert.

I lived on the energy output of my pure defiance. No longer was I the dimply, happy-go-lucky nice girl from the suburbs. No longer was I the messy procrastinator who flew by the seat of her pants. No longer did I take it as an article of faith that everything would be fine. The new Jen didn't take anything for granted. I was fierce and on top of things - I was type A-plus-plus. I faced down all opposition - the attacker and anyone else in the world who tried to tell me that I couldn't do everything that I set my mind to. I looked them all in the eye, I thrust my shoulders back, and I said, You picked the wrong girl.

I Never Promised You a Goody Bag is about Jennifer Gilbert, who lived a relatively normal life until she was 22 years old. She had just returned from London, and was trying to make a new life for herself in NYC, when she went to visit a friend. She accidentally got off at the wrong subway stop, and she backtracked until she found her friend's apartment building. While ringing the doorbell, she saw a 250-pound man coming down the hall towards her, and he started to attack her with a screwdriver. Her friend opened the door and saw this happening, and immediately closed it and got help.

Later, she was to find out that the man had followed her from the subway, and had targeted her to attack; as to why, she did not know. He was later convicted of attempted murder and sent to jail, but it took Jennifer a long time to recover from both the wounds and the mental pain of being targeted and attacked like that.

Meanwhile, she was running her own party planning business in NYC, called Save The Date, and she put on a mask and rarely told any of her friends or employees about the attack. She thought this is what it would take for her to get past it.

This story had many layers and kept me interested until the very end. Jennifer details her life pre- and post-attack, and said how her relationships with her family and friends changed afterwards. She also talks about her company, what it was like to date and trust men after the attack, and who she eventually ended up with and the three children they now have together. The title of the book, too, is very apropos to both her party planning business and life in general - life is hard and there are lots of obstacles to overcome, i.e., a "goody bag" is never promised.

4 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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