Fiery Cocoon: Beyond Loss and Fear
By Clarissa Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Chris Schahfer
A well-intentioned book, to be sure. Fitzgerald claims in the forward that she hopes Fiery Cocoon will "help you navigate whatever pain you're currently experiencing," and if you read it and feel it's helped, more power to you. However, good intentions only get you so far when writing a book, and it's up to good writing to get you the rest of the way. The problem with Clarissa Fitzgerald is that she is, in short, a poor writer. Her writing is by turns wordy ("This book is the result of a ten-year process that helped me process what could be summed up as a life-opposing upbringing"), laden with clichés (she uses Peter Pan as a too-easy image of a happy childhood; she also mixes the Peter Pan with a bit of Rapunzel, which left me downright confounded), jumbled ("I never had the chance to move out on my own and find out what life without [my mother] by my side, but alive and well nonetheless, would have been like and now I was robbed of that experience"), or made meaningless by an overdose of modifiers (a phrase like "It was a relatively untouched nature trail with stunning views" creates no particular image in my mind. What does this "untouched nature trail" look like? Why just "relatively?" And what, oh what, is "stunning" about the view?), and that's before you factor in the plague of mechanical and grammatical errors. Fitzgerald's story, about growing up mixed-race in Berlin before coming to the United States and losing much of her family, could've been compelling in other hands, but the clumsy writing makes a slog of the whole project.
Out of 10: 3.5