Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Musical Chairs Paperback – October 3, 2009
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
--Phillip Lopate, author of Notes on Sontag
Jen Knox has accomplished what so many memoirists do not - she told her story in a clear, unsentimental voice with lovely prose that read like a well-crafted novel.
About the Author
More About the Author
Her writing earned finalist status in The Adirondack Review's 2013 Fulton Award as well as Glimmer Train's Fiction Open, Family Matters, and Short Story Awards. Her short story, "Types of Circus," was selected by Dan Chaon for inclusion in Wigleaf's Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. Her work has been featured in over seventy magazines and her novel, We Arrive Uninvited, was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize in 2015. Jen is currently working on Rattle: A Novel-in-Stories.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a no-holds-barred book. Knox is painfully honest about herself, her past, and her battles with anxiety, restlessness, and booze. She doesn't offer rationalizations, psychobabble, or excuses. Instead, she looks for and finds the strength that comes from facing life with honesty and acceptance.
If, at times, the reader is reminded of Camus at his best, it is because Knox too finds meaning within the helpless, repetitive pointlessness which is the human condition. And, if at times, the reader feels like the author's pain and struggle are reminiscent of Kafka, it is because "Musical Chairs" is told with an attention to detail that make every moment burn itself into consciousness.
I would recommend this book to every reader. I would particularly urge it for every young woman who feels ready to take responsibility for her own life. And, if it were in my power, I would make sure it was given to every teenaged girl who attends or should be attending AlaTeen or ALANON; for this is a book which offers much to those who would choose to learn. (Kenneth Weene, PhD, author and psychologist)
This book reminds me of Catcher in the Rye, though the book in hand is creative nonfiction. It's about time we had a heroine who's smart, sassy, brave, ready to deal with adversity from within her own mind and from the external world. I'm also reminded of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, which features another spunky articulate female narrator. Wall's book is a best-seller, and Jen Knox's book should be too.
I wish my sister had had this book when my niece began to experience a long series of troubles. No one in the convoluted health care system had much to offer. Luckily my niece was able to clean up and to survive dangerous streets. She is a painter and has landed on her feet with her visionary art.
For the narrator in Musical Chairs, words are the angels, hard-won.
Soon after her parents' divorce, young Jen is riddled with teenage angst, and in desperate need to find her place in the world. Aged fifteen she leaves home and enters an adult world where some (are only too eager) to take advantage of her vulnerability. Jen grows up quick.
There is a tragic irony to Jen's story; she battles with booze which many in her family have struggled with and mental illness. I applaud Jen for facing her demons head on, and managing to restore her life while having many adversities to contend with.
I strongly believe Musical Chairs should be part of every school curriculum as the lessons in life are invaluable.
I highly recommend Jen's story as a must read for all.
These books are the first ones for each author. Being a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I'm typically for any book that brings this horrific subject into the public realm. How else can such things be dealt with? Pretending that such things don't happen, or that they always happen to someone else conveniently outside our families, doesn't seem to work very well. So, I was really enthused when Phillips's book came out. I watched the Oprah interview (and one or two of the others) and ordered her book.
In my opinion, Mackenzie Phillips is still in "pretend mode". Her continual justifications of her father's actions and affirmations of her love for him really grew tiresome. At this point I can't even imagine that Phillips will be able to stay away from drugs. Let's face it, she's only been "clean" long enough to write the book (with the aid of coauthor Hilary Liftin - and even that didn't help much). Phillips last arrest for drug possession was only a little over a year ago:
Problems like Phillips has don't get fixed in a year. Her message seems to be:
1). If you're in an abusive situation, continue in it until your perpetrator dies.
2). Once that happens try to see if you can fix what's left of you, but only after you get thrown into jail for possession.
3).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Growing up in a tough neighborhood with all the love of family and friends around her, Jen took the stereotypical unforgiving role of a toughness that we have to procure to take... Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by Lori Jean
WOW!!! I was blown away by this memoir! Jen Knox is one of my favorite writers out there! I bought the memoir after reading her collection, "To Begin Again," which I am now in the... Read morePublished on September 12, 2011 by Meg Tuite
Trite words such as riveting, engrossing, touching, brilliant, make us cringe when we read them in reviews. They are over-applied, by eager readers who want to help a good author. Read morePublished on June 5, 2011 by Joel Kirkpatrick
Musical Chairs by Jen Knox gives us a rare look into how much a dysfunctional family can create a meltdown in the life of a child going through puberty into young adulthood. Read morePublished on April 10, 2011 by M. Moran Bishop
Jen Knox's memoir, Musical Chairs, really touched my heart. From the very first page, I knew the author was giving this book her all. Read morePublished on January 26, 2011 by Lizzy
In Musical Chairs, Jen Knox manages to tell several stories at once. One is the fate of a young runaway, who flees her father's house because of a personality conflict and winds... Read morePublished on January 26, 2011 by Robert Dinsmoor
This autobiographical account of the author's life is painful to read. Yet in the reading we are brought to the realization that the outward journey told here is our own inward... Read morePublished on November 9, 2010 by Jean Rodenbough
Through the palpable voice of a runaway teenage girl, Musical Chairs delivers a powerful punch and ultimately inspiring portrait that transcends every parents' nightmare. Read morePublished on October 12, 2010 by R. Rubenstein
Rarely does a relatively "unknown" author write a memoir that is as compelling and compulsively readable as Jen Knox's Musical Chairs. Read morePublished on September 25, 2010 by Marvin D. Wilson