As much as I love memoirs, and especially memoirs from those less conventional writers (those written by figures who are not well known), I always approach them with a little bit of trepidation. The things that drive people to write memoirs aren’t always pleasant, and while Alon Ozery’s memoir, Even the Sidewalk Could Tell: How I Came Out to My Wife, My Three Children, and the World possesses a fairly tongue-in-cheek title, I opened the book with some hesitation. I shouldn’t have been hesitant. While Ozery tackles the difficulty of lying to yourself, suffering from the resulting mental health issues, and the fear that accompanies major life changes with a great deal of humour, thoughtfulness, and compassion for his past self. Ozery’s memoir is short but impactful, a story about a gay man who tried desperately to live the life he thought he was supposed to have, until the box he stuffed himself into became too tightly closed around him.
Ozery tells his story through the lens of seeking lessons from it. He begins his memoir with a story about walking against a crowd of workers in New York, having all left the office at the end of the workday, and how taking three steps into the wall of people allowed him to get through – taking those steps for a path to open up to you, even if the path is unclear when you take those first steps. I’m not sure I bought all of the morals and metaphors he used in his story – Ozery is clearly a man who enjoys morals in his stories, and that’s not something I connect with well. However, the humour and light, matter-of-fact tone Ozery used to explain how he spent most of his life knowing there was something different about himself and suppressing it so deeply that he never gave voice to the thoughts until he was in his forties. The oldest son of an Orthodox Jewish father and an English mother, Ozery felt a lot of pressure to be the model child, and describes a childhood where he dealt with severe anxiety, later developing slightly more effective coping mechanisms. There is no blame in Ozery’s discussion about his childhood in Israel, his experience in moving to Canada as a teenager, and the way his life fell into the traditional pattern of marriage and children.
It is this compassion and generosity that makes Ozery’s memoir so impactful. The joy with which he tells his story and the honesty with which he explains different parts of his life: his service in the Israeli army, his work as a successful businessman running a commercial bakery, his strong family-centred relationships, and the pressures he felt to live the seemingly perfect life. When Ozery is finally able to start asking questions of himself and talk about sexuality with his therapist, you want to cheer. Ozery’s coming out as a gay man is not especially fraught, but he conveys the anxiety and fear he felt, as well as the realization that he had a supportive network all around him, once he began to reveal his authentic self. Thoughtful in its reflections, this is an excellent memoir to read for anyone who needs an example of strong self-love and care, even after a lifetime of trying to be someone else.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Toronto and raised in Israel, Alon returned permanently to Canada at age twenty-one, earning his undergraduate degree in hospitality management from Ryerson University. He married at age twenty-four and raised three children with his wife. Alon is the Co-Founder of Ozery Bakery, a commercial bakery that sells natural baked goods across North America. He also co-owns the successful Parallel Brothers, a restaurant and sesame butter brand located in Toronto. Alon began exploring his inner self in his midthirties. He is still on that journey today.
- Publisher : Regent Park Publishing (Nov. 5 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 206 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1544524692
- ISBN-13 : 978-1544524696