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Some of the Words Are Theirs: A Memoir of an Alcoholic Family Hardcover – November 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Told with great humanity, tenderness, and grace, Some of the Words Are Theirs is a story of a man healing and becoming wise, one that invites readers to see new possibilities in understanding their own lives.” —Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine, coauthors of Comeback: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey through Hell and Back

From the Inside Flap

Some of the Words Are Theirs is far more than the tale of an adult child of an alcoholic. Jensen’s story chronicles how he came to widen the lens through which he saw his past, removing the filters of the victim and abandoned child, allowing him to see events as significant primarily in the meaning we choose to give them.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Moon City Press; 1st edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913785091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913785096
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,349,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James S. Baumlin on March 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jensen's Some of the Words Are Theirs has a power that few memoirs can claim: it tells the truth about family alcoholism without blaming or self-pity. It's genuinely funny in places, exciting in others (the Word War II sequences especially), meditative in others still, and always engaging. I remember being in a public lecture when Dr. Jensen read from his book. What amazed was the number of audience members who afterwards said, in effect, "That's my life, my family you just described." I guess family alcoholism has its typical trajectories; Jensen has recorded his with great honesty and tenderness at the same time. I've read the book twice now, and enjoyed it more the second time. The letter that he wrote to his children describing his own father's naval experiences at Pearl Harbor (and other great battles of the Pacific Campaign) deserves to be anthologized: we should all remember to pass along the stories of our parents, even when those stories turn tragic. Otherwise, we disappear from the face of the earth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Kleine on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
George Jensen's recently released memoir, "Some of the Words are Theirs: a memoir of an alcoholic family," is the single best memoir I have read in my life. From the title on (the title alludes to "A River Runs Through It"), Jensen's memoir not only vividly recounts the story of his alcoholic father, who served in the U.S. Navy with distinction during World War II, but also the stories of those who were adrift in the wreckage wrought by alcohol: his mother, his brother, and himself. Unlike "A River Runs Through It," Jensen's memoir more directly and realistically explores how alcohol can destroy not only the life of an alcoholic, but also the lives of those who struggle to move, in concentric circles, outward and away from a potentially soul-destroying vortex.

What impresses me most about Jensen's writing is that it relentlessly avoids being self-pitying--and in its vivid detail, its display of documents and photographs, and its beautifully rendered reflection, it refuses to damn the father himself. Indeed, the villain of the piece is alcohol itself.

Beyond limning the lives of the author,the author's mother, the author's brother, the author himself, and his wife and children, the memoir is also a kind of mythic "search for a father," and Jensen finds in his father's military accomplishments reason to admire aspects of his father's life, reason, even, to love him. Thus, the memoir is transformative, restoring a modicum of dignity to an alcoholic father while, at the same time, showing how, in the worst of times, people--the author's mother, in particular, but also the author himself--can act out their lives with decency and integrity. I cannot recommend the memoir highly enough. It is compelling, beautifully written, authentic, and inspirational. A MUST read for anyone whose life has been affected by alcoholic behavior (that would include most of us) and who has sought to understand an alcoholic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl B. on March 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "Some Of The Words Are Theirs" I found the compelling story of a childhood profoundly shaped by alcoholism. Unlike many others memoirs, Jensen never begs for the readers sympathy.His is a candid and touching account of a child absorbing the stories of those around him. With little explanation or understanding of his family history, he evolves into a young man who longs to broaden his horizons and carve out a personal identity. Jensen is an author of great distinction.
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Format: Hardcover
This work represents one of the most scholarly and skillful approaches to the creative nonfiction genre of memoir. The writing is both precise and sophisticated, the storyline both authentic and raw. At the same time, Jensen is poignantly accurate and rhetorically beautiful in his depiction of the pain of those who have lived with the suffering of an alcoholic parent. I applaud Jensen for his honesty, which speaks to anyone who has experienced and thrived in similar situations.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jensen's book is so much more than a memoir of or about an alcoholic family. After reading it I found myself wanting to purchase copies for my entire family, because like Jensen's, my family has some problems too. I champion Jensen's efforts to delve deeper into his family history, and not to point fingers, but rather to understand the circumstances, the real history (not the contrived one we tell ourselves), and to contemplate how each family member affects the others.
At times funny and times teary eyed, Jensen writes with passion about the reality--good and bad--of his family. His memory is balanced and fair. In what appears to be a potentially bitter son attacking his father, we quickly find a son struggling with his own feelings, his brother's feelings, and even his mother's feelings, but most importantly, those of his deceased father. This is a tale of love. A love that travels across time and space and is carried to Jensen's own sons, which is one of the most touching endings I'll wager anyone will ever read.
I'm not ashamed to say my eyes were wet on more than one occasion--I felt myself a kindred to Jensen's story, his life. Yet, I'm also not ashamed that I laughed out loud many more times--Jensen does tell a wonderful story, but a real story it is.
Again, beyond mere memoir, Jensen is a detective who searches out the truth of his father, his mother, his brother, and even himself.
Jensen has a deep love for his family that we all must share with our own families. Yet, I also suspect Jensen is paying his alcoholic father's love forward, not just to his sons, but to every reader. So read and love.
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Some of the Words Are Theirs: A Memoir of an Alcoholic Family
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