How can you write a memoir about a day? Authors generally write memoirs about entire lifetimes, not twenty-four hours. And yet, author Sonya Huber set out to record a single day in her life and all that it stood for in her newly released memoir, Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day.
Huber wears many hats—those of an activist, mother, wife, professor, and writer to name just a few. And in a perfect storm of sorts, Huber finds herself needing to balance all of these roles. Huber’s memoir is micro-focused on a single day. While participating in an environmental protest about climate change in Times Square, Huber is arrested. The main day chosen for the memoir, however, is Huber’s day in court following this arrest. On this same day, she finds herself grading her students’ papers (having necessarily canceled class), dealing with her rheumatoid arthritis, trying to calm her own nerves at needing to appear in court all before she is expected back to her hometown in Connecticut to take her teenage son for his driving test.
Huber’s day sounds exhausting to say the least. But it is not the mere chaos or numerous events of her day that draw the reader into this full-length book. Rather, it is the myriad rabbit trails Huber follows as she explores her own mental processes and personal history that led her to that day and will surely lead her past it. Huber’s writing style is rather rambling, filled with delightfully descriptive run-on sentences. However, much like the popular saying, “Not all who wander are lost,” Huber proves that there is such a thing as deliberate rabbit trails. Through her various stories woven together to create her larger points, you find snapshots of who Huber is and what she stands for. Even as she seems to get caught up in a brief, random section about checking her Twitter account, she pulls out beautiful observations, proving that such ramblings indeed belong.
Huber’s book is filled with strong, passionate opinions. And while many may expect a book filled with political, moral, environmental, and fiscal beliefs to be combative, Huber’s disarming manner made it approachable. Rather than fighting you, she humbly invites you to share in her passions, without offering judgments, as she recognizes that she herself is an imperfect human being. Despite her passions, she is also a person with real limits. She writes, “The impeachment hearings are going on right now but I can’t even watch them. I don’t watch any of the Dem candidates’ debates, I didn’t watch the political conventions in 2015, I just can’t. I start to yell and cry almost immediately. There’s a way in which I have to shield myself to function” (p. 35).
Huber, in a compelling admission of humanity, even goes as far as to say that her reasons for wanting to get arrested were rather selfish, illustrating an apparent journey of self as opposed to a self-righteous martyr for the environment. By page 39, she has already gone into many facets of her life, so that you feel the struggle in her words: “So getting arrested at a protest was different, a real act chosen by me, not something I felt I had to do for someone else to keep getting a paycheck or to avoid being yelled at or getting a snippy passive-aggressive email.”
Huber writes that her husband says she’s “a source of good chaos” (p. 29). And her book reflects this perfectly. While Huber is personal and human, relaying her insightful small talk and minor thoughts throughout the day, she is also a mighty force for change, taking on important environmental and social justice issues. And she somehow manages to do this with humor. (Her one line about needing to “pose with the arresting officer for a second picture, like the worst prom ever,” (p. 71) had me cracking up!) And yet her humor doesn’t get in the way of her messages, but rather showcases that there is, indeed, a person on the other side of this book.
I invite you to read Supremely Tiny Acts and get to know that person, as she is imperfectly, supremely fascinating.