16096299Reviewed by Nina Longfield

Knock Knock, is the literary memoir by Suzanne McNear. Knock Knock is a recollection of a life flowing from depression-era thirties through the seventies into the contemporary. This is a unique memoir in that McNear recreates herself into a character using the pseudonym March Rivers. The reader first meets March prior to her own birth.

March Rivers enters the world with a prosaic measure of advice following her arrival. Is it any wonder the character remains standoffish throughout most of the story when some voice, the narrator, tells March to respond “I am fine… now smile and there you are…”; nothing further is needed. The narrative follows March from her home in La Rue, Wisconsin to boarding school in Connecticut to Vassar. March is a pampered child, a troubled child, a lonely child despite the people surrounding her. This is the path of her life. She is sent away to boarding school when she is deemed unmanageable. Then she moves on to college through the week and trips to New York City through the weekends. March wants to learn, but society deems she find a husband to care for her. Throughout her journey, disillusionments and challenges, March is resilient.

Knock Knock is well written and easily read. McNear has an uncanny gift with words allowing her prose to seemingly flow onto the page naturally. Except for the date given at the beginning of Knock Knock for March Rivers’ birth, McNear creatively uses historical events, pop culture and literature to place the context of the story in time. The one drawback is the impersonal nature of this memoir. Even ignoring the possibility of this being a memoir and looking at the book as a novel instead, the character March Rivers is rather remote. It is difficult at times to engage with March until the end of the book when McNear brings the story back around to the beginning. At this point, there is a kind of epiphany that brings March Rivers into a crystalline focus. All in all, this was an interesting remembrance for an era that used to exist.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.