Most of the memoirs I've read recently have been by famous people or people going through extraordinary circumstances such as alcoholism or drug addiction. Rosella Rhine's memoir Life's a Piñata: Full of Surprises, as she herself notes, is the life of an ordinary person. Her life is indeed relatively ordinary, but it's not without intrigue. Spanning over 60 years, this memoir showcases the little things that make up most of our lives and that make each one unique.
Beginning with her childhood during the Depression, Rhine shows us the values that shape her life from an early age. Her family moves from house to house in her early life, a habit Rhine adopts as her own, moving from town to town in California and even to Washington, DC. She is also encouraged to marry and have children, but here she runs into trouble, marrying young and having a child, but then divorcing that husband. After another failed marriage, she finally finds the love of her life and settles in to grow old with him, even settling finally into a house.
Despite her many moves and failed marriages, Rhine stays employed in interesting jobs, primarily working for BART at its inception. Her tales of sexism and sexual harassment on the job I found interesting. They are similar to stories that my mother has recounted, but which were a rare occurrence by the time my mother stopped working.
The book is lighthearted despite some serious moments and events in her life. At first, I found this annoying as she glossed over potential spousal abuse, a bad marriage, and more about her work. I wanted to know more detail about these events and how she felt about them. I came to enjoy her upbeat tone and appreciated the long life she's lived and obviously enjoyed.
Life's a Piñata is more a chronicle of a life rather than a deep exploration of it, but it is fun to read and is full of surprises just as the subtitle suggests.