[Review] About music and abuse and fathers who passed away.

This song was played at the funeral of Theo Metz (25/6/1949-27/10/2013), my father.

Title: The Most Beautiful Girl: A True Story of a Dad, a Daughter and the Healing Power of Music
Author: Tamara Saviano
Source: Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review
Tl;dr: A memoir on a difficult childhood with a difficult man as a father, and how this shaped the author’s life. Sadly, with less recognition of my own situation than I had hoped.

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As I’ve mentioned before, my dad passed away last year. He loved blues music, and even though we never shared that much shared in that love , I do associate certain music with my dad. So when I read the following description, I felt this would be a book to find a reflection of my grief in.
From Netgalley:

The Most Beautiful Girl is a heartbreaking yet uplifting memoir of a daughter, her father, and the healing power of music. The story opens with a scene at Johnny Cash’s funeral when author Tamara Saviano is struck with grief about unfinished business with her father. Her grief led the author on a journey to rediscover her father and examine the lost relationship with a man she once loved. The Most Beautiful Girl is the result of that exploration and reveals a painful and complicated, yet, at times, touching relationship between a young girl and her dad. Through an unstable childhood, a turbulent young adulthood and finally on a path to freedom, Saviano lays bare the complexity of family ties—both those that bind and those that break. Her story is set to a soundtrack of folk and country music that both inspires and haunts her. Saviano weaves a tale that proves music can provide a lasting connection long after human relationships have unraveled. Threaded with lyrics and grounded in a mid-century coming-of-age tale, The Most Beautiful Girl represents a true American remembrance of childhood anguish, lost identity and happy endings.

So, when the book was mostly about the childhood of the author and the way her father physically abused her, I was surprised in a not too pleasant way. The book is not about dealing with grief about her father, but about grief in dealing with a complicated past with him (which would have been necessary, even without his passing). However, I still liked reading this book. It does show the complications that arise in children and families when abuse takes place, and emphasises (more in descriptions than in actually saying so) that even someone who hits their kids is completely “bad”. Also, it shows a strong woman, who made choices that were harmful to her, but who also persevered and went on to do what she really wanted.

I found the music played a smaller part than I would have suspected from the blurb I quoted above. There were lyrics, and there was lots of namedropping (which tends to happen in memoir-like books), but maybe because folk and country are not really my thing, it was not something that “carried” the book for me. Maybe that’s different for someone who does know more about those genres.

To me, the book was disappointing because it did not follow my expectations. This can be wholly blamed on my expectations (and maybe a bit on the netgalley-summary) and not on the book itself. Even though the content is about the harder things in life, it is still a comfortable read, that might be more enjoyable if the aforementioned music is more up your alley.


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