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Loose Diamonds: and other things I've lost (and found) along the way    by Amy Ephron order for
Loose Diamonds
by Amy Ephron
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Loose Diamonds is a collection of essays by Amy Ephron, an author whose work I have not read before, but will certainly read again. Ephron writes vignettes about her life that are funny, as well as insightful. The stories range from memories of her childhood, through her young adulthood, first marriage, children, and various experiences that helped to shape her. She writes lovingly about friendships, and one of the delights of this book is that even though she can be critical, there is a tenderness in her remarks that is kind rather than hurtful. Even Squeaky Fromme comes off well, as a deluded young person, misled by the wrong sort of influence rather than as the dangerous person who tried to shoot a President.

A prologue explains the title of the book, but really each of the essays is a loose diamond - a treasure from Ephron's past. In the first essay she tells us about a robbery that occurred in her house in which most of her jewelry was stolen. The pieces that were taken were more valuable to her as mementoes of where she had found them or who had given them to her, and didn't have a lot of monetary value. The experience is so awful for her, though, that she makes up her mind to never again collect any jewelry that she would be unhappy losing. After explaining and rationalizing this decision, the end of the story involves a dear friend presenting her with 'a tiny antique platinum-and-diamond tennis bracelet' that had belonged to the friend's mother. Amy says, 'I put it on and suddenly I felt like I was attached to something. I wear it all the time now, like a piece of armor on my wrist.' Her good intentions fell by the wayside, but in this friend's loving gesture, she regained her peace of mind.

The chapter entitled My Afternoon with Squeaky Fromme tells about her experience interviewing Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme at the Spahn Ranch while Charlie Manson and several of his other followers were in prison awaiting trial for the Sharon Tate murders. Amy was going to write an article for a magazine in Los Angeles, and talked a friend into driving her to the ranch. The interview isn't quite what she had expected it to be, in a way less frightening because of the childlike simplicity of Squeaky, but finally more terrifying when she learned about what had actually been going on at the ranch.

Each of Ephron's chapters is such a jewel that it's hard to pick out just a few to write about, but I particularly enjoyed Labor Day about her first pregnancy and childbirth, Security Check about having a stranger say the words 'going to explode' to her as she's boarding a plane, and what happened after that, and A Love Story, which involves her youngest son. All of the stories are enjoyable reading, though, well-written, empathetic, and a joy for this reader to discover. I highly recommend this book.

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