Book Review

Trailer Trash: An ’80s Memoir

I received a free copy of this book through Booktasters in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. Angie Cavallari writes with a witty and ironic sense of humor that I truly appreciated. While she is at least a few years older than I am, and has had a vastly different type of childhood than I did, there were so many points in her story that resonated on a deep level with my own.

She makes numerous references to growing up chubby in the 80s, and it was such a trying experience to go through! I can recall the exact same things that she relays in her story, from being denied the same foods others were treated to, having well-meaning relatives or friends offering the newest diet plan or workout tapes, and every single person feeling the need to comment on it. Being a kid who is more comfortable around adults than kids your own age is a tough way to be. I’ve been there too.

Her writing brings back an exquisite sense of nostalgia for me. The musical references that occur in just about every single chapter literally played in my head. She mentioned some things that I haven’t thought about in years (yeah, Jolt cola and Burger Time – I’m talking to you!), and some things that are more recent, like Jellies. They do say that all the old fashions come back in style again, and they must be right, because I bought my nieces matching pairs last summer. Although there are some 80s fashions I could do without, like the hair styles, which she also refers to in the book.

This book gave me some interesting insight into what life must have been like growing up in a mobile home park (or trailer park as some people call them), even if your parents own the place. Which according to this book, makes it even harder. Even through the difficulties, Angie Cavallari makes light of the situation, and acknowledges the good times she had throughout her unconventional upbringing. She talks about the cast of characters she met while living in the trailer park, and while her life certainly wasn’t glamorous, it seems like it provided her with determination, imagination, creativity, and humor.

While I also grew up in the 80s, I never thought anything was amiss. Looking back on my own childhood after reading this book, I wonder how any of us made it out alive. Wearing seatbelts wasn’t standard. I must have ridden in a car seat as an infant, and I remember riding in a booster seat, but I remember being three or four and riding in the middle of the front seat, or sitting on my parent’s lap, often behind the wheel, unbelted. The author recounts riding sitting backwards on the console between the front seats without a seatbelt until the console heated up enough to give third degree burns. She mentions her parents keeping multiple loaded guns in the trailer, unsecured. She describes an unsecured industrial dishwasher that, when opened, would produce clouds of scalding steam that could melt your face off. And the familiar refrain that I’m sure all of us kids who lived through the 80s knew – we stayed away because “hey, we were warned and had it coming.” Maybe that’s why we made it out alive.

This book was a quick, enjoyable, and refreshingly funny read. It ran through a decade in short, witty chapters. Of course, I absolutely adore a book that ends with a sense of closure. Now, if only there was a book about what happens next, because I’d love to hear about her next decade.

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