When I picked up Dharma Girl, by Chelsea Cain, at the library book sale, I didn’t know that author Chelsea Cain had spent a portion of her childhood in my hometown. In fact, although I knew I had heard of this memoir, I had no idea where or how.
Dharma Girl is the memoir of a girl growing up in Iowa, and years later decides to move home after living for years in the Pacific Northwest and California. Her mother’s cancer diagnosis is a factor, as well as her desire to find her way home. She and her mother road trip from Portland to Iowa, where they find what’s left of the “family” they left behind, a group of people who shared their home in a sort of hippie commune farm.
There was nothing earth shattering about this book. I found it hard to relate to Cain. Her upbringing, which on the surface seemed nothing like mine, clearly defined her, but aside from having hippie parents, there wasn’t a lot that made her life any different than millions of other kids. The parents had hippie friends – check. They had a lot of animals – check. They grew their own vegetables and did odd jobs and hid out from the draft – ok. Bu they also loved her, fed her and nurtured her. On a deeper level, the only thing that seemed odd was that she didn’t seem to have any child friends, but I think she just didn’t write about that.
Her mom had cancer when she was a young adult – yep, I can relate to that. But you make of it what you will. You deal with it, you get through it, and you move on. What other option is there?
The book wasn’t bad at all; I just found it – plain. She is a good storyteller, but the elements of the story were lacking. There was no defining moment, no climax, no real drama. Just a vanilla childhood in a small town. It was an easy, quick read, but otherwise it didn’t stand out for me at all. Maybe others could get a lot more from this book than I did, but there you have it.