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Memoir review: Life Before Frank by Frank Kusy

March 31, 2018

I won this memoir in a draw on the We Love Memoirs page on Facebook and finished reading it last night. What a marvellous snapshot of life as a youngster in the seventies it is, particularly when it came to boys although I could relate to it very well myself, being very close to Frank Kusy in age.

I haven’t read all the author’s memoirs yet; in fact, this is the second. The first one I read is also the last in the series, so it was good to go back to the start and read about what paved the way for what I know his life became later on. He was incredibly enterprising as a small child, especially after his Polish father tragically died and before his mother remarried. Sadly, though, life changed then for Frank. As a child with a stepfather who didn’t really like him, he was constantly aware of being out of step and out of place, especially when he was sent to a Jesuit school for boys by his deeply religious mother. Poor Frank was always in the wrong somehow and the misery of these years (although he dealt with it pretty creatively) laid the foundations for a rather rootless youth.  He was obviously very bright, but not terribly motivated, so as time went on, this lack of enthusiasm took its toll. I won’t say more, as I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but I found myself recognising much about life in the seventies. I could also sympathise with Frank over the Catholic education and the distractions wrought by student life when education was free and we all got grants, so we didn’t have to ‘owe’ anyone for our three to four years of  university life.

The book rolls along and is well written and easy to read. I enjoyed the trips down memory lane and the photos of Frank as a teenager and twenty somethinger. He hasn’t changed much, that’s for sure. I was also fascinated by the titbits of information about the attitude to Polish people following the war. Unfortunately, it struck a chord with what seems to be happening in Europe today.

Altogether, a very enjoyable read that set the foundations for much of what Frank did in his later life. Highly recommended!

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One Comment
  1. Interesting review of what I’m sure is a fascinating memoir. Thanks, Val. (Steph)

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