Book Review: On the Okey Dokey Trail by I. Leigh Private

29 Jun

I’ve been so bad at reading ARCs that I stopped requesting them. Most of my book choices are for book clubs. But with a summer break coming up, I found myself with time to read for pleasure and decided it was time to grab one of the ARCs off my shelf. I won On the Okey Dokey Trail from a Goodreads giveaway a few months ago. I’d stopped requesting books, but this one piqued my attention because it sounded like the comedic memoirs I’ve been enjoying lately. So I requested and won. Look at my luck.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

On the Okey Dokey Trail: A Smart-Alec Perspective on the Give and Take of Life by I. Leigh Private

Summary from Goodreads:

On the Okey Dokey Trail is a collection of humorous stories about relationships, work, parenthood, plastic surgery, bad car karma, photography, weed, golf lessons, serendipity, popular culture, plus so much more.

This book WILL NOT help you find or keep a love relationship, grow the perfect rose or child, surmount life’s inexplicable tragedies, reinvent yourself, have a career in Hollywood, or extract the cream filling from a cupcake without it crumbling.

This book WILL make you laugh and offer a perspective on all the above and whatever life serves up.

We are so sure of our ability to entertain you that, in this one-time limited offer, we will guarantee 1-3 LOLs or your money back, no questions asked. Well, we may question if you even have a sense of humor, but it will be rhetorical. We would never post your name anywhere, pinky-swear.

I’m not sure if I got my full three LOLs, but I had one or two. These stories were short and cute. I enjoyed them, but I wish there was more. Some of the stories were three pages. I didn’t feel like I got anything out of them that told me about the ‘give and take.’ The title and synopsis gave me some expectations about the topics and the idea that there would be some kind of moral lesson in these stories. And in the longer ones, I felt there was. But most of these stories were short or moderate in length and it wasn’t enough time for me to get into them. I liked them, I thought they were funny, but I didn’t get anything out of them. I wish the author had gone into them more.

The writer portrayed herself in a very believable way. I liked that she made fun of herself and her flaws because it made me respect her for being able to see her own faults. Sometimes that’s hard to do. I didn’t like that when she talked about her husband and children, they didn’t seem real or were the straight man against her crazy antics. When I’m acting crazy, not everyone around me is on board, but they’re not stoic either. There’s a balance.

Besides the narrator, we only get to know one other character; her brother, Mike. She made him very easy to like. He was fun, social, nice, helpful, everything. No matter how true this is, I want to believe it and I want it to be true. I like that her title comes from the epitaph on his tombstone.

Everyone does something stupid every once in a while and I think that’s why these stories are very relatable. I may not have melted plaster or had the man I was going to interview parallel park my car, but I’ve done equally stupid foot-in-mouth things. Ms. Private was very open about her experiences from behind her pen name and I appreciated that in her story.

I liked the Lamaze story about picking up her daughter from camp. I thought it showed how quirky she was and how much she loved her children while being both funny and heartfelt. It was the perfect balance that I felt the whole book was aiming for. To me, it was the best-balanced story.

‘Up Close’ was my least favorite story where the author talked about photography and lenses. I disliked it only because it’s not something I know about, I’m not interested in it, and the story was so short that I didn’t get much of anything out of it. There was no depth or relatability.

Private gives her own theme: the give and take of life. Obviously her big ‘take’ was her brother and to a lesser degree her mother. She mentions leaving her career behind for a while to be a mother and the rewarding experience it was for her while others disagreed. She focuses intently on the loss of her brother which was obviously a traumatic experience for her. I’m not going to say her humor is a way to cover up grief; she’s very open with her grief and seems to have accepted the loss over time. But, as the title implies, there is also give. She has two wonderful children, has met some great and inspiring people and has been able to be a part of projects that she’s cared about. We have to take the bad with the good and balance it out. Nothing will ever be perfect.

Writer’s Takeaway: I like the short personal essay style. I think it makes a good memoir for someone who wants to share their life and not just a portion of it. The book had childhood memories and very recent experiences. I liked the wide time span. However, as I’ve said, the stories needed more depth. Each needed to relate to either the ‘give’ or ‘take’ the author mentions and I felt a few fell short of that.

Enjoyable and a quick read. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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