The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes is an unusual collection of memories from an even more unusual (though one might even say batty) woman. Transcribed by her loving son, H.R. Jakes, after her passing, Elaine’s memoir is full to the brim of wit, humor, and magnificent storytelling. Her far-fetched tales revolve around joyriding black bears, frightening cheese plates, daring sword fights, cross-dressing monkeys, pungent Welsh cheese, and dingle berries, to name a few. Amidst the rampant humor, there is also a sense of somber honesty as Elaine confronts her mistakes and faults throughout her life; she boldly bares all in her quest to discover the truth behind her own spirituality, family’s history, and her often ambiguous identity.
Despite some of her stories presumably being fairly embellished, they are nevertheless more than entertaining to read. More than once, Elaine’s outrageous (and sometimes even downright ridiculous) memories warrant out-loud chuckles as the reader is brought along on this wacky journey of hers. However, it was a bit confusing to follow sometimes, as none of the stories were presented in chronological order. Rather, they were grouped according to general theme or revelation. This style of organization made it difficult to grasp the exact timeline, yet clearly showcased Elaine’s spectacular growth and evolution throughout her exciting life.
What it lacked in organizational development, The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes more than made up for in its humorous and engaging narrative. It is captivating in both its funny moments and its somber ones, resulting in a more than delightful read. H.R. Jakes did a fantastic job at capturing his mother’s unique voice and spirit. His transcription of the notes she jotted down while on her deathbed exposes to all, as Elaine once learned herself, the true values of life, love, God, and strong Welsh cheese.
Originally reviewed by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.