Riding Standing Up

A Memoir

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
267 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Riding Standing Up: A Memoir is an autobiography written by Sparrow Spaulding. Sparrow’s earliest memories were idyllic ones centering around a picture-perfect family with an adoring dad and a mom who was patient, loving and fun. But things changed and much too quickly. Her dad left, taking her little brother with him, and then he kidnapped her one morning, while she and her mom were on a doughnut run in town. Sparrow’s last vision of her mom was of her looking broken and twisted on the pavement and screaming. She and her dad drove to his mother’s trailer home in upstate New York, a terrifying trip that lasted, it seemed, forever. Nana was scary, with a stiff face that never seemed to smile even if a smile ever found itself on her painted red lips. Sparrow’s mom and dad had been from different worlds, and when they parted Sparrow’s perfect world seemed to end. Later on, her mom would explain that the breakup had happened because of his infidelities, something she could never forgive or get over.

Sparrow Spaulding’s autobiography, Riding Standing Up: A Memoir, reads like the most enthralling fictional account you’ve ever read and there’s a very good reason for it. No, it’s not that this is really fiction, rather it’s that Spaulding is an extremely gifted writer. That said, I did have to check for myself several times while reading Riding Standing Up, that this was, indeed, a memoir. Spaulding speaks with a wry detachment that works perfectly with her story. I would think to myself, what a great character Sparrow is, and then remind myself that she is also the author. How confusing and yet how incredibly awesome is that? I especially loved those parts of the story where Frank, her mom’s first love, comes to live with them and found the passages about the bikes to be memorable and moving. If you enjoy memoirs, you’ll have a marvelous time reading this exceptionally good one. If you prefer fiction, try it anyway. This memoir may have you rethinking your preferences, and, yes, it’s that good. Riding Standing Up: A Memoir is most highly recommended.

Maria Beltran

Riding Standing Up: A Memoir by Sparrow Spaulding is a narrative of a young woman growing up in a dysfunctional family. Sparrow's early memories are those of a secure home, a beautiful and loving mother, a charming father and doting grandparents. Her happy existence, however, crumbles when she reaches the tender age of three years old when her parents go through a nasty divorce. Together with her younger brother, she is kidnapped by her dad and is forced to live in a crowded house in Alabama. Reunited with her mom after a year or so, the young girl meets her first stepdad and thus begins a life journey that will bring her to various places, different schools and introduce her harshly to a reality called life.

Sparrow Spaulding's Riding Standing Up: A Memoir is a story that will not fail to tug at the reader's heart. Surprisingly, it is not because Spaulding is asking for pity or even understanding. Her writing style is casual, matter of fact, and sometimes humorous so that we can laugh with her while she relates the lowest points in her life, and there are many. What shines through is the quiet strength and fortitude that she uses as shields to protect her from life's perils. She comes across as a relatively ordinary young woman at first, but as one turns the pages of Riding Standing Up: A Memoir, one realizes that she's not only standing up - she's also holding her head proudly up high.

Edith Wairimu

Sparrow Spaulding’s memoir Riding Standing Up is a candidly told account of the author’s life and her defining moments. Spaulding is born into a lovely family. She is the center of her parents’ world. Her mother continually loves and dotes on her charming little girl. A devastating divorce between her parents marks the start of Spaulding’s misery. While her mother remarries a couple of times, Spaulding and her siblings have to bear the agony that accompanies their mother’s irrational decisions. On top of getting accustomed to living in abject poverty, Spaulding has to find a way to fight off sexual predators while remaining numb to verbal and emotional abuse. Without any significant parental guidance and with many painful memories to cope with, it is miraculous that she actually makes something of herself.

A sprinkling of humorous moments is present in many parts of the book. While Riding Standing Up is emotive, the humor balances the deeply touching moments of Sparrow Spaulding’s life. Very honest remarks are included and the detailed scenes make the memoir come together coherently. The author does not shy away from sharing her own mischievous experiences and the mistakes she made along the way. Every character is well described and the role they played in Spaulding’s life is sufficiently explained. Not only does the roller-coaster life Spaulding has had to live through make for a great story, but it also inspires and proves that difficult moments can make us stronger and wiser. Riding Standing Up is definitely a great read for every fan of memoirs.