Wisenheimer Book Review by ChristineMM


Title: Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate

Author: Mark Oppenheimer

My Star Rating: 3 stars = It’s Okay

My Summary Statement:  I Enjoyed This Memoir About a Gifted Child Who Finds His Niche



I enjoy reading memoir. As a mother of gifted children I was curious to read a memoir about a precocious child who didn’t have a healthy outlet until he started debate club in seventh grade. As a Connecticut native (near New Haven) I was interested also in the part of his story which takes place in that state.


I delayed reading the book as it didn’t immediately grab me but once I finally picked it up to read it, I got into it, and I was hooked. I enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book the most, as is when Oppenheimer reflects most.


 In his early childhood he did not have a great outlet for his high verbal ability and misused his gift to hurt others, the worst being that a false allegation was made. I cringed at what he did, but he was an immature kid without an understanding of the harm he caused (until the police got involved). I therefore was happy to see that being able to begin debate with older kids starting in grade seven helped him find direction and to have a healthy outlet for his gift.


The middle section of the book, about his life and debate in grades 7-12, was detailed about his experiences in the debate team. Honestly I was doubtful of some of this content as there were whole speeches recounted and he never said he had a photographic memory. If he had copies of the speeches or video footage I wish he would have mentioned that because I started to wonder if this could really be accurate. Who remembers someone else’s speech word for word? Was it creative license with memoir writing? We readers don’t know.


The book wraps up with his college experience at Yale. In this section he gets back to being reflective and the college debate team years were not a blow by blow recount. I liked that he shifted to a more typical memoir where the author looks back and shares wisdom rather than just recounting facts.


I hated the "joke" on page 181, for the record. I don't mind the sexual references here and there but that was much too detailed, and low-brow, to boot. I wish it was edited out, because it was gross and demeaning to women.


Oppenheimer is an academic but his writing style in this memoir is colloquial and it is a very easy read.


I enjoyed the book despite my not being involved or interested in debate in my family’s life.


I would have rated this 3.5 stars if it was possible; I’ll rate it 3 stars = It’s Okay.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Amazon.com's Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on Amazon.com. I was not under obligation to blog it or to review it favorably. I was not paid to review it.
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