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If Only You People Could Follow Directions

A Memoir

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


If Only You People Could Follow Directions is a spellbinding debut by Jessica Hendry Nelson. In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reimagined the memoir with her thoroughly original voice, fearless writing, and hypnotic storytelling. At its center, the book is the story of three people: Nelson’s mother Susan, her brother Eric, and Jessica herself. These three characters are deeply bound to one another, not just by the usual ties of blood and family, but also by a mother's drive to keep her children safe in the midst of chaos. The book begins with Nelson’s childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia and chronicles her father's addiction and death, her brother's battle with drugs and mental illness, her own efforts to find and maintain stability, and her mother's exquisite power, grief, and self-destruction in the face of such a complicated family dynamic. Each chapter in the book contends with a different relationship—friends, lovers, and strangers are all play—but at its heart the book is about family, the ties that bind and enrich and betray us, and how one young woman sought to survive and rise above her surroundings.

Customer Reviews

A Powerful New Writer

Intense, mesmerizing, unflinching, compelling - all words to describe this debut memoir, told in a series of essays. Filled with heartbreaking beauty, exploring the ties that often bind families together and break them apart, this book moved me greatly. I couldn't put it down.

For 12 Steppers

This is a well written, sometimes funny but mostly sad tale of a girl in a family with addiction issues and how it affected and shaped her as she grew up.
Having not had addicted parents, I found her story extremely sad. Even though she escaped the disease and found her own version of "happy", she just doesn't seem to be a person who will EVER be happy. So, unfortunately, it wasn't a tale of triumph over adversity.
What happened to Eric? Is he alive? Dead? In his addiction still?
A depressing book that was all over the place.

If Only You People Could Follow Directions
View in iTunes
  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Dec 31, 2013
  • Publisher: Counterpoint
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings