Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family

By: Mariel Hemingway
2015
Nonfiction
Rating: 3/5

 

Out Came the Sun book cover

Out Came the Sun is a pretty average book.

That was more than I was expecting of it, though, so there’s that.

This book was recommended to me by my friend Amie, and I, like I imagine most book lovers would be, was intrigued by the name: Mariel Hemingway.

Hemingway? As in Ernest?

Yes, indeed. Ernest Hemingway is Mariel’s paternal grandfather.

(N.B.: I make a point to ALWAYS refer to female authors by their last names because the patriarchy that is our society so often chafes at the idea of using a woman’s last name while always unquestionably referring to men by theirs. In this case, however, I’m using Mariel to avoid confusion with Ernest.)

In this book, Mariel takes a look at the unhappiness in life and family, analyzing the reasons why it exists in the first place and why people respond to it they way that they do. The Hemingway curse is a powerful shadow to grow up in, and it affected those in Mariel’s family in different, but almost always negative, ways.

For an autobiography, I thought this book was fairly well written. It’s not overly repetitive; it’s not cheesy. It is a little self-serving at times and throws people surprisingly under the bus at times. But all told, it’s not hard to read; it’s not painful to read; and it’s not boring to read. All good things, in my book.

There are some ridiculous parts, like when she claims to remember Kennedy’s assassination on her second birthday:

Then I started to pick out words I didn’t know: president, assassination, tragedy.

Even if by some quirk of the brain she does remember this particular occasion, there’s no way in heck she remembers not understanding the word assassination. Not a huge deal, really, but just makes me wonder what else she’s embellishing.

There are also a few awkward writing moments, like on page 45, where Mariel writes, “Slowly, my dad settled back in to the swing of things, and life in Idaho moved along smoothly,” and TWO PARAGRAPHS later says, “Slowly, my dad settled back in to the swing of things, and life in Idaho moved along roughly.” And I checked. I don’t think this was done ironically; I’m almost surely it was purely unintentional.

It wasn’t my favorite book. It was a little interesting, mostly because of Mariel’s connection to Ernest and how that plays in to her life.

But I’m required to like this book, because my favorite author is Larry McMurtry, and here’s what Mariel has to say about him:

When I read the script [for Falling from Grace, written by McMurtry], I was in: it was Larry McMurtry through and through, which meant that it was smart and sharp and emotionally complicated.

So read this one if you’re interested, and then go pick up a McMurtry or an Ernest Hemingway novel.

 

*****

 

If you enjoyed Out Came the Sun, here are some suggestions just for you:

(for more by Mariel)

Invisible Girl by Mariel Hemingway

Running with Nature by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams

Mariel Hemingway’s Healthy Living from the Inside Out by Mariel Hemingway

Finding My Balance by Mariel Hemingway

(for books by Ernest)

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

(for books about Mariel’s family)

Strange Tribe by John Hemingway

Misadventures of a Fly Fisherman by Jack Hemingway

Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner

Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner

(for other inspirational memoirs)

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

Growing Up by Russell Baker

A Common Struggle by Patrick J. Kennedy

(for other celebrity autobiographies)

A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen

The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers

Troublemaker by Leah Remini

There Was a Little Girl by Brooke Shields

 

Coming up:

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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