(Yes, the lower-case author’s name is intentional as it is the way she has it on her book and Page on FB.)
Those Words is the author’s deliciously intimate memoir heavy on young love, seasoned with self-psychoanalysis, mystery, and hope of an escape from the loveless bourgeois, whether by suicide or reconnecting with her long-lost high school sweetheart. Ligtenberg has done an excellent job of tempering the story of her tragic childhood with experiences of love, subtle joy, and friendship.
Ligtenberg’s sense of humor doesn’t allow the reader to cry for more than a couple lines at a time, which I believe is a reflection of her resilience and fortitude. An example, from my Facebook post January 25, 2012: “In between the anxiety and the despair and hope and love, I burst into laughter for a line that is uniquely Anna Ligtenberg: ‘(because really, except for the efforts of the goofballs on urbandictionary.com, nobody has yet come up with a sexy word for that spot)’ location 5350 (Kindle version) in 1413 of Those Words by anna ligtenberg”
Yes, there’s a great number of sex scenes in the book. I must admit I only skimmed them, feeling they were more intimate in detail than I was interested in knowing since I wasn’t reading this book for pornographic entertainment. Psychology student that I am, I was, however, very much enthralled with the aspects of the sex scenes that were related to Anna’s mental health and her memory disorder. Fascinating! From my Facebook post January 17, 2013: “I’m only 2/5 in to 1413 of Those Words by anna ligtenberg and highly recommend this memoir. This book is for adults only, especially for women of a dysfunctional background who will likely find herself relating to the author in her functional dysfunction and quest for a way out of life altogether if not out of the life she was suffering.”
I devoured all of Those Words as if engrossed in a visit with my old best friend, catching up after spending more than a decade apart. It was as if Anna was reading her diary to me and narrating additional details. This familiarity is partially a credit to Ligtenberg’s writing style in this book. Anna and I grew up in the same neighborhood and, although we were only superficially acquainted back then, I was well acquainted with several characters in the book, and had even remembered her sweetheart as the awkwardly sexy boy who resembled, in my mind’s eye, a young, healthy Keith Richards.
From my Facebook post, Jan 22, 2013: “On lunch break, reading 1413 of Those Words by anna ligtenberg, who happens to be the sister of a childhood-high school friend. This experience is much like reading the grown-up version of the juicy diary of a neighborhood kid 30 years later. In learning details of several “characters” whom I have known in real life, the anticipation builds. Also, as a student of psychology, I’m fascinated with knowing the background and contributing factors to functional dysfunction, and the coping mechanisms employed to get there!”
Although very unconventional, I love that Anna included so many conversations with Mike that took place on Facebook’s private messaging platform. Sharing those messages helped the reader believe in and fall in love with Mike as much as Anna had believed in him and loved him all along. Prior to the reconnection and ensuing messaging via Facebook, Mike just seemed to have been another bad boy who played Anna and other girls for whatever he could get, and I found myself sad for Anna and her unrequited love for this player. His genuine love for Anna becomes evident in very short order, and when it does, it brings a sense of relief, joy, and hope to the reader on Anna’s behalf!
I wasn’t ready for the book to end. I wanted updates. Within a week of finishing the book, I was feeling Anna-and-Mike withdrawal! I wanted to phone Anna and ask her what was new? (Actually, I did call her to ask!) Is there a sequel? When is Letterbomb playing out and will you, Anna, be there? Now that I know the intimate details of your life, when can we meet in person?!
Great book on many levels. Don’t bother if you are easily offended with swearing, sex, drugs, self-infliction of pain, family secrets, or other real-life hardships. If reality doesn’t disgust you and you want to learn a little something about yourself, read this book.