Saturday, December 04, 2010

Bobo's Daughter

I am in the middle of an enormous project in our house. It's one of those that seems to take over every other room in the house until it's finished. What started out in one room, has now taken over all the other rooms, and it's now an obstacle course to get through the house. I currently have eight hours of labor in, with another two or so expected before I'll be done. It was hard walking in there today and tackling it again after getting half way done on Tuesday. I felt completely overwhelmed by all there was that needed to be done.

So I started in one corner and worked my way around from there. If you saw it now, you wouldn't be very impressed, but in two hours, it's going to be a sanctuary for Mia. A place where she can play with her toys and read her books as she stops being a little girl and begins the path to being a young woman.

Cleaning this room feels like a metaphor for something much bigger. When you have a mess in your life (literal or psychological), it can begin to spread to other areas of your life, taking them over one by one so subtly that you don't even notice. I allowed that to happen in our lives, and now I'm paying for it. But I will not give up. I will work until it is done, and my family will be blessed for it.

Bobo's Daughter by Bonnie Barnett is the poignant story of one woman's quest to find her father, and therefore herself. Bonnie was four years old the first time she met her father, Chester "Bobo" Barnett, one of the most popular clowns in the United States. Her mother dressed her in her best yellow dress and brought her to the circus where she was introduced to a man in a ragged costume and white face. She was immediately both enthralled and frightened by this strange figure, but when he disappeared from her life for another seven years, it was much harder for her to accept him, creating a pattern of random appearances and Bonnie's love/hate relationship with the man who was far more comfortable in front of a crowd than with his child. Initially the book hops around in time while giving few details as to why Bonnie is reacting the way she is, leaving the impression that she is a bit overemotional, but as she fills in the blanks and settles down to a more chronological telling, the reader comes to empathize with her struggle for self. Bonnie's mother was too caught up in her relationships with men to be a good mother, and often expected the girl to care for herself alone for hours a day alone. Bonnie's few interactions with her father leave her frustrated and hurt, until as an adult she finally determines to solve the mystery of who she is by finding out where she came from. This is when the story really takes off, especially with her stories about her dogs: Spot and Sugar. While Bonnie does finally get some answers from Bobo, it's her faith that she learns she can truly rely on. She keeps her writing about her faith to a minimum, but it is evident that it carries her throughout the book.

Thank you to Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

Today's pic is of Jesse, Mia, and I at my mom's on Thanksgiving.