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Imagined Lives A Memoir Paperback – September 2, 2014
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About the Author
Davida Siwisa James was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. She currently resides in the Mojave High Desert in California with her husband, Robelto James. Her son, David, is a screenwriter and actor in Los Angeles. The author has an English degree from UCLA and attended the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the memoir, “The South Africa of His Heart” and "The Commute" a short story in the Pushcart Prize-winning "The Caribbean Writer" (Vol. 14; literary journal). She has numerous published newspaper and magazine articles. Her body of creative writing includes several unpublished manuscripts.
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But just as importantly as her life being relatable, there were absolutely unbelievable experiences that blew me away. Imagine growing up just a few blocks from the Apollo Theatre as a child and seeing all these people who are music legends today at the beginning of their careers. I wished I could have time warped and been her best friend! Amazing. And she went to boarding school. I’ve never known anyone who went to boarding school and I really enjoyed reading about the New Jersey countryside, as well as New York in the 1960s during that whole hippie era.
Davida is a woman whose writing skills are to be applauded. It wasn’t just that she had an interesting story, an exciting life, romantic adventures and a lot of sadness to overcome (like miscarriages and a family suicide), but her writing is nothing short of poetic. Lyrical would be another word for it. Her writing reminds me of authors like Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Alice Walker, and other writers whose words are just mesmerizing in their beauty. I went back and reread several passages.
If I had a criticism it would be that there were a few places where I felt she mentioned something…but then didn’t expound on it enough. She spent a big part of her career as a Box Office Manager for cultural places and I wanted to get a little more depth out of some her experiences there. Like, she mentioned at one point when she was working at UCLA that there was a ‘rumor’ that Bob Marley might be coming to UCLA. Well, I was at that concert! I think 1979 or 1980? It was amazing! It wasn’t that long before he died. Incredible concert…so I thought she should have not left that hanging.
I am a pretty fast reader…and I ‘flew’ through this book. They are 500 really well-written, riveting pages. Well, not every page of any book is riveting. But it’s a great read. This woman had an incredibly rich life arch – growing up in a poor family with a lot of alcoholism and domestic violence, teenage love, being married to an older man in exile from South Africa’s apartheid, earning her UCLA degree, law school…I mean she’s led like three or four lives. I highly recommend. Very inspiring. Very emotional story.