The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes by H.R. Jakes
Reviewed by Mike Keenan, What Travel Writers Say
H.R. Jakes, Elaine's son, describes the life and personal journey of a lady far more than a wife and mother. Elaine was a teacher, and following in her footsteps, the book is instructive, if not somewhat complicated and loaded with myriad humour, witty asides and universal stories about interesting people and times.
We learn that Elaine Jakes lived in the unconventional community of New Hope, Pennsylvania., and in the 1970s and 1980s set about to discover her Welsh heritage, herself, and her God. The stories H.R. shares from his mother's life include intriguing components including that of a bear in a truck, a frightening cheese plate, a magic sword, a cross-dressing monkey and a German expert in Jewish mules. Quite a combination!
Other reviewers have called the book witty, warm and wacky-a spiritual journey of self-discovery, and I agree. It's not that easy to read but in the end, worthwhile.
Elaine Jakes grew up in Wilkes-Barre, confronted by World War II, which instilled in her a strong desire for social justice and a competitive outlook on life.
The Rev. Timothy Vaverek, a Christian writer says that, "The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes offers us slices of classic Americana lovingly transformed by the spirit of Welsh storytelling. It is the spiritual odyssey of a woman finding her way back to faith. Her journey is touching, amusing, and at times hilarious."
David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University, calls it, "Witty, wacky, zany-this is a postmodern romp which astonishes with moments of spiritual wisdom and provocative piety."
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.