In her fiction, Jeanette Winterson creates prose that reads like poetry--yet her language, spare as it is, still creates a web of stories so dense that the reader becomes tangled up in the plot until finally putting the book down (and for me, these stories have stayed with me long after I finished reading them).
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? takes its title from cruel words thrown at Winterson by the mother whose powerful force is felt in her novels (most notably Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit). Fortunately Winterson made the choice to be happy rather than to live a life of repression and bitterness. Her memoir shoes some of the hard choices she makes.
Several incidents in this book actually left me incapable of even imagining the pain Winterson must have experienced, and one episode in particular made me cry too hard to keep reading, but in its broader narrative trajectory, this is a book about how beautiful it is to be a human being--and how much love we can find when we break down the bonds that restrain and harm us.