Memoir in Two Voices: A Review
I don’t normally take book recommendations from very many people. Which leads me to asking myself why I was so trusting of my local bookstore clerk. The clerk saw I was buying a historical novel and she asked if I ever read Night by Elie Wiesel. Night is one of my favorite Holocaust books and she recommended Wiesel’s half-memoir, Memoir in Two Voices. I picked it up because it was $5 and I mean, come on, it’s Elie Wiesel.
I know I’m prepping this review in a negative manner, you’re probably expecting me to say how awful it was and how I’ll never trust another soul again for a book recommendation. To which I would respond with: just hang on. It’s not that I did not enjoy Memoir in Two Voices, I think I was expecting something entirely different. I thought it would be similar to Night but perhaps about Wiesel’s life prior to the Holocaust. I honestly don’t know what I thought, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.
First of all, there is a co-author, whose name didn’t register at first. I assumed it was someone interviewing Wiesel, until I read the preface which was a quote by the co-author, Francois Mitterrand. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, he was the president of France in the 80s and 90s. The book is set up as an interview between Elie Wiesel and Francois Mitterrand. Wiesel will ask a question and Mitterrand will remark on it, followed by Wiesel’s own take on the question. It was an interesting set up as if the reader is sitting in on a conversation between two people. They talk about EVERYTHING and the reader gets a very personal experience with both men.
I think I really appreciated the honesty that comes from both men. I particularly liked the section on Faith. Mitterrand has a strong opinion that people who are fanatic about something are often the cause of disaster. When someone has such a strong opinion, typically, others only respond with an equally strong opinion which causes arguments which can turn into prejudice which can turn into war. Mitterrand believes that if people would be more even-headed and not get so worked up about an opinion that we would see more world peace.
This mentality speaks to my personality and it’s something that the world is struggling with right now. Politics have consumed our daily lives whether we want them to or not. What started out as two political parties has turned friends into enemies. For what? For some rich people in power.
Everyone does not have to be left-wing or right-wing. It’s okay to be in the middle. It’s okay to agree with some things on both sides. In fact, I would say that it is healthy and balanced to have an understanding and compassion for both sides. We should not be turning to social media and blocking family members for not agreeing with our opinions 100%, 75%, or even 10% for that matter. I know many people will throw quotes my way about “stand for nothing, fall for anything” but why can’t I stand for Gray? Why is it only acceptable for me to stand for Black or White? Mitterrand’s point really opened up my vocabulary to what I have been trying to put into words for a while now. I love when literature does that. 🙂
I think what I enjoyed most about Memoir in Two Voices, is the sense of reflection it opens up to the reader. Both Wiesel and Mitterrand are very raw and honest in the reflections of their own lives. It made me want to analyze where I have grown since my childhood. A book that allows me to grow as a person, not just a reader, is incredibly rare.
If you enjoy historical interviews, you would definitely like this enlightening memoir. However, don’t expect anything like Wiesel’s Night. Click the link below to purchase your copy of Memoir in Two Voices today! I’d love to hear your thoughts below!