Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Review: The Size Of Everything

     Every now and then, a book comes along that I became so completely engrossed in that I cannot put it down. Such is the case with The Size of Everything, a memoir written by Erin Cole and co-author Jenna McCarthy.

     The book captures the heart-wrenching story of parental neglect of a young girl who is bounced from one unstable home to the next. Despite the abuse suffered at the hands of adults who controlled every aspect of the author's life---down to the way she dressed to the amount of food she was allowed to eat---the memoir is sprinkled with bits of humor to avoid being a dark read.

     What impressed me most about Erin Cole's story was her ability to overcome a cringe-worthy, troubled past. Her story is one of endurance and hope, her resilience an inspiration to anyone who reads this amazing book.    

     Don't just take my word for it; check out some of these reviews:

“A beautifully written story of triumph, 
wit, and sheer determination to survive."
-W. Bruce Cameron, bestselling author

I’ve been raving like a maniac about this book ever since I read it. 
I haven’t seen a memoir this compelling and inspirational since 
The Glass Castle.”
–Carla Levy, books editor at Good Housekeeping Magazine

"Remarkable and inspiring."-Jane Heller, bestselling author
"A searing account of a broken, devastating childhood 
and the triumph that emerged in spite of—and because of—the wreckage. 
What a book!"

-Allison Winn Scotch, bestselling author

     I'm super excited to share an excerpt from The Size of Everything. The opening words roped me in the minute I started reading Erin's story.

                       Prologue: Reach for the Stars

When Mom was drinking, I’d wish with all my might that she would stop. But sometimes when she did, it was even worse.

It was only afternoon but of course she was in bed, the curtains pulled as tight as they would go. Our new house on Ramona wasn’t like the one on Stardust—it didn’t face the sun the same way or the curtains were made of a different fabric or maybe it was bothso making it feel like midnight in there wasn’t an option. The best she could hope to recreate was dusk.

I was playing some quiet eight-year-old game in my room when I heard her talking. She didn’t have a phone in her bedroom, not that she had any friends she might be chatting with anyway, so I went in to see who she was talking to.

The door was cracked. Mom was lying in her bed, on top of the covers. Her eyes were open and she had both arms outstretched toward the ceiling.

“Grab my hand,” she was saying to the air, her tone desperate. “Come on, I have you. Just grab my hand!”

“Mom, who are you talking to?” I asked, trying to make my voice light.

She turned to me sharply. Her eyes were glazed and almost unrecognizable.

“You can’t see him?” she shouted, as if I were blind or crazy or some combination of the

“Who?” I asked. My old friend panic slipped his fingers around my neck and began to
softly squeeze.

“ERIN, HE’S RIGHT THERE! GRAB HIM!” She was frantic; adamant.

“There’s no one there, Mom,” I told her.

“YES, THERE IS,” she insisted. “It’s Kelly, he’s here. He’s really here. Grab his hand,

Erin. Grab him! Get on the bed. Stand up on it and reach. You can get him, honey, I know you can!”

She was gone and I knew it. I didn’t want to upset her any more than she already was so I did what she asked. I climbed onto her bed and I stretched out my arms as far as I could and I tried to grab Kelly.

“Reach straight up. Yes, right there! You’ve got him now, grab him. Come on, Erin, you can do this!”

Over the next few years, my sister and I would be subjected to this torture over and over. Mom would try to quit drinking dozens of times, each attempt marked by periods of intense hallucinations. And every time, we’d stand on her bed and reach and grasp just like she asked us to, but we could never get our dead brother back for her. 


  1. This sounds like a great choice for my book group. Learning about the struggles of others is so important for us, especially at this time of national division. We all have tough times, and many of our darkest moments are buried deeply out of sight. Sounds like an incredible story.

    1. I couldn't agree more! Erin's story is truly incredible... as is Erin herself. Also there's a reading group discussion guide on my website as well. Here's a link, and thanks for your support.

  2. Wow, what a powerful prologue! Sounds like a great read.

  3. The despair of losing one child seemed to have cost the loss of two more.

    1. Nailed it. It's such a tragedy, but the real story is how Erin rose above it all.

  4. I couldn't agree more! Erin's story is incredible... as is Erin herself! Also there's a reading group discussion guide on my website, I'll include a link. Thanks for your support. It means, well, everything.

  5. The absolute tragedy of a preventable tragedy. My heart breaks for those little girls. And for their mother!

  6. Wow, it's so unbelievable how someone can treat their children like that I"m just glad Erin broke the chain and rose above it all. She could have easily went down the same path. I wonder how her sister turned out.

  7. Wow, this sounds like a great read, Marcia. Thanks for sharing. I haven't heard of this author. Sounds like she survived and thrived!

    1. It's a fantastic memoir. I've already read it twice!

  8. Sounds interesting. I added it to my wish list. Thanks for sharing.



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