Young people who have grown up in difficult home surroundings, with parents who were not loving, but courageously found ways to overcome adversity should and do write their stories. Add the singer Sinead O’Connor to the group. She has issues with her Catholic religion, family and other boring people, and country. This book is the memoir of a punk rocker.

Sinead’s childhood possessions were hand-me-downs or stolen property. The books that lined the walls of the house in stacks of five to ten were all stolen. When the basket was passed down the pew, Mom removed coins rather than gave. Sinead was learning from the best.

Sinead becomes a petty thief. She may be fourteen when with guilt she visits with a priest and confesses her sins–she has been stealing charitable donations collected with her co-opting mother. Pry open the container with a knife. The priest is very kind. Sinead promises to repay the organizations when she is old enough to make money at a job.

Sinead is a free-spirited writer providing artful content. Her sentences are sometimes choppy, and paragraphs and chapters short, although the message flows. Not really chapters, they are vignettes of two to eight pages, unnumbered but all appropriately titled. In the early going, she says her recollections are not great, and with a future memoir she will prepare better with diary entries between now and then. But, ironically, the short chapters here are like long diary entries–very personal, well thought-out, often funny, and direct. She speaks her mind.

I am not familiar with Sinead’s music. I do know her to be an artist of interest; and, being myself of Irish and Irish-American descent (one hundred percent), and being familiar with mental illness, I was drawn to the book. Also, the front cover is attractive and readers should not neglect the back cover photo. In the 1980s and beyond I failed to closely follow popular music. However, I did dabble in human development studies–I enjoyed and learned from life stories found in the first half of this book.

Sinead developed her singing chops by busking on the streets of Dublin and Waterford, listening to her parent’s record collection, and receiving instruction from Frank Merriman, the man who had vocal-coached her father. Her influences include Dylan, Streisand, and W. B. Yeats. She has received many Grammy nominations for her vocals, but she admits to not playing either guitar or piano well.

The following excerpt appears near the end of the book when our author has suffered a breakdown and is seeking health care wherever available. I meet the psychiatrist at the trunk of his car as I’m stomping back from the garden toward my room. He offers me a fig bar. What the fuck does a rocker want a fig bar for? Is he crazier than me? I tell him, “No thank you, fig bars are for hippies.” I can see we ain’t gonna be getting along at all. This may be a casual slippage into writing mediocrity, but demonstrates the humor to be found throughout this work. This is followed by a funny reporting of an episode with Dr. Phil that you must check out.

Patti Smith, a punk music vocalist like Sinead, has written two excellent books I could recommend, but I would not do the same for her recorded music. Being that I cannot remember having heard Sinead’s vocals, I will let the content of her books substitute for her musical message–so what I now know of Sinead is from this book writing.

Sinead expresses her love for God and scripture, and just as frequently, a different kind of love for the many boys/men who enter her life–about one every chapter. Her stepmother and a teacher are kind, but a certain record executive is disdained. Emotional experiences from child and teen years make for the varied chapter subject matter. Also included are the stories behind each of the tracks from her many albums.

O’Connor, Sinead. Rememberings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.

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