I don’t review many books because I have too many friends who are authors, writers, poets…I never know where to start and where to end. This book is not only written by someone dear to me, I believe it’s truth telling and in this age, that’s oh so welcomed.
My friend, David Leite, has written a memoir entitled Notes On A Banana. Words so honest it hurts to read. The pages include cringeworthy laughs, and still I feel bruised from certain paragraphs. I kept checking my skin for brown and purple spots. Not only is his book about family, food, and his brilliance, it delves into his lifelong struggle with manic depression. I know a little about hypomania. I was diagnosed as teetering right on the edge of it in my thirties. I knew I was ADD positive, but when my doctor mentioned mood swings and hypomania twice, I had one of those moments when all the lights came on. No wonder! I had shined brighter than a Paris Christmas tree. Sometimes.
My wonderful therapist, Harriet, explained this was the possible culprit responsible for a lot of my ultimate joys and heart rendering lows.
(I was only sad that it was too late to send my new medical diagnosis to that mean high school counselor…she died thinking I was just a pain in her ass which is now simply considered a challenge!)
David manages to take the reader on their own journey through the telling of his. He took me back to my immigrant childhood, my high school explorations and a shared discovery of lip gloss, and the heavy breakthrough of loving yourself in spite (and maybe even because?) of the flaws. I’m not quoting any of his book to you. Go buy a copy or check your library, you might want to read it more than once. This book is a ride in a fast car that I wanted to slow down so I could savor my miles on the road.
Reading the unwavering love and support David received from his parents brought home the point that unconditional love and acceptance is the best thing we can do for our kids. And that there is no “normal.”
His words made me remember my own youthful, erratic behavior. I would tell lovers, “Don’t worry if I am like Gidget when we go to sleep and Mommy Dearest when we wake up. It’s just part of my charm.” I figured men want to have a threesome at some point in their life. I was making it attainable. Only the tough boys survived me. And to the others, I assume I was a learning experience. I’m a giver like that. The best pre-diagnosis quote from a boyfriend was, “Yea, I know you’re a monster inside, but I am grateful that it’s my turn to feed it.’’ He was a little ginger devil!
Notes on a Banana made me look back on the some of my less than stellar behavior (understatement), but in quite a triumphant manner. Upon finishing David’s manuscript, I stood up and yelled, bravo David for never giving up! You helped yourself! You helped me. You will help many.
You did yourself proud, David Leite.
Denise Vivaldo is the author of nine culinary books. She is currently writing two memoirs, one about growing up Italian in San Francisco and the other about cooking in Hollywood. One is sweet and the other isn’t.