Saturday, March 14, 2009



In his memoir, ‘Jigsaw’, author Tim Ricker tells an emotional story about his tumultuous journey through life. He shares a reflective and personal account of a painful childhood in the 1950s and 60s followed by a life filled with intriguing events and people. While on his journey, Tim grows to be wiser and achieves a sense of peace.

In 1959, Tim’s journey begins when his family moves to Florida. For a nine year old, life becomes extremely difficult. An alcoholic and abusive father and an alcoholic mother have a profound effect on him that lasts for years. He faces such traumatic events as the death of his baby sister and his father’s severe physical abuse inflicted on his mother. Tim was forced to grow up quickly as he took on the role of his mother’s protector. At a very young age, Tim learns a valuable life lesson: “You deal with the hand life deals you.”

At age 14, Tim’s mother is badly hurt leaving him at the mercy of his father. One night while in a drunken rage, his father comes after him. He escapes and is eventually adopted by his Aunt and Uncle who live in Washington. On the bus ride to Washington, he has his first gay experience.

Tim tries to put the gay experience behind him and focus on living a traditional life. At 17 he marries, and at 19, he and his wife Debann have a child. He works hard to maintain a traditional family, but struggles internally with his true self. The marriage eventually ends, and his journey charts a new course to find his true identity.

Tim’s life story is that of a young boy who entered adulthood too soon. With no parental role models, readers will observe how Tim’s chaotic childhood affected his choices as an adult. With each experience and relationship he encounters, Tim is able to overcome his own demons and gain insight into his own sense of self. Whether it was Dennis, a partner for 17 years and eventual life friend, or Bob, who brought chaos and confusion into his life, Tim is able to process the experiences to better understand his own complexities. He shares a number of deeply personal experiences such as his suicide attempt and the pain he felt when his son rejected him. He comes to his own personal realizations:

“It was all about proving to me that I would never let fear and loneliness keep me captive or away from everything that life may bring my way.”

During Tim’s turbulent life, he lost many friends and family members. Throughout it all, he was able fit the pieces of his life together. Over the years, he acquired many valuable life lessons such as making every moment a precious memory, the importance of loving yourself before you can love another, and finding the courage to stand up for yourself in both your work and personal life.

The story is very detailed in its description of experiences that took place over a fifty year period. I would have liked to have seen more details about significant life experiences and less on details on his work life. His relationship with his son was an engaging part of the book. I would have liked to have read more about their intense interactions to get a better understanding of his son’s feelings.

With thoughtful writing that is sometimes witty and sometimes sentimental, ‘Jigsaw’ tells the story of a man, who is not just gay, but also a son, husband, father, lover, care taker, friend, and grandparent. It is a story that shows we are truly the sum of our parts. It is highly recommended to readers who enjoy compelling memoirs.

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