Ilene Beckerman's Love, Loss, and What I Wore is old enough to have already been made into a play written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron. But, Beckerman was one of the speakers at the librarians' dinner when I was in New York City, and I found her small book charming.
Beckerman wrote and illustrated this book, the story of her life as told through the clothes she wore. It starts in the 1940s when Ilene was seven years old. Her Brownie uniform is the first dress pictured, and she tells about going to Girl Scout camp with her older sister. The book not only tells the story of Beckerman's life, but also gives glimpses into the culture during those years. In the pages covering the 1940s, she talks about rag curls and listening to her favorite radio shows. There's humor and sadness expressed in short sentences. Ilene was five years younger than her sister. At one point, she mentions they had identical pinafores. "My sister wore a blouse under her pinafore. I didn't have to."
The clothes and hairstyles take Beckerman through her life, one that wasn't always happy. It comes as a shock to read, "The spring after my mother died...." As the book goes on through the 50s, Beckerman grows up. In the '60s, she marries, divorces, remarries, and has her children. The '70s, '80s, and '90s are covered briefly.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is a fascinating look in to one woman's life, however it's also a reflection of life during those years, and the changes all women face in their lives. According to the reviews, the Ephrons' play was well-received because women could identify with the characters. If you appreciate costume, or the changes in women's lives in the twentieth century, you might want to pick up Ilene Beckerman's account. It's more than just a personal account. It's a poignant look back at a life and a period in contemporary history.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.