My book Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy has gotten some very nice comments from readers. These remarks were made on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, and here on Parenthetically Speaking. (Some have been edited to exclude personal details of the writers, and/or for length.) I’ve compiled them here for easier access. There are also several nice newspaper and magazine articles about the book here. I am profoundly grateful for all the love!
This book shook me. I don’t know how Morris was able to inhabit the voices of so many varied, fascinating, funny and sometimes tragic family members and give them such life. It’s a special gift that only grew in impact as I got to know them all. As another boy from the south, the references to favorite foods, cakes, treats and games gave so much depth and realism. You will feel every mosquito bite, every humid day, every moment of love, loss and hope. When I finished the last paragraph I found I had chills over all my body. The hair on my legs stood up and I had to stop myself from crying out loud. Not because it was sad, but because it was so real. You will be the richer for reading this beautiful life story. [I am] sending this book to everyone I love.
I devoured this book the same way I do boudin or oysters when I’ve been away from Louisiana too long. And just like those longed-for iconic foods, this book fed my soul. The beautiful descriptions of place and time pull you in and hold you tight. From the sense of safety of a doting grandmother to the awkwardness of adolescence, childhood comes alive on the page. I laughed, cried, cheered and ached along the journey. The sibling relationships were fascinating and real, providing their own critical sustenance. These diverse characters, through their individual lenses and authentic voices, help reveal the parents’ complexities. The most important gift of this story is hope. Healing is possible when we have the courage to put the pieces of our family’s puzzle together. Grace comes from accepting the gifts along the crooked path that journey can take.
I was so excited when my daughter gave this book to me. I read it in 48 hours. I laughed and I wept. I wept for a long, long time. [The book is] a beautiful, heart-rending, masterpiece. And the best capturing of the soul of the Cajun. The absolute best.
This memoir transcends the by-now-familiar trope of tragedy-escape-salvation. More so than most memoirists, Ardoin provides a rich context and background that explains (without justifying) the abusive behavior of many of the adults around him. As hard as it is, he has empathy for the people who hurt him. And he brilliantly conveys how life-changing it can be for a child to have even one adult who can protect him. At the same time, it’s a vivid portrayal of a slice of space and time that most people are likely unfamiliar with: Cajun Louisiana in the 70s. If you’re trying to decide whether you want to read yet another memoir and are intrigued by this one – read it.
Morris Ardoin’s memoir fills your heart — and then shatters it. With generosity, grace, and courage, he puts it all back together and the world somehow settles. What a brave and beautiful book!
Lisa K. S.
Morris Ardoin’s description of growing up in rural Louisiana in the 60s and 70s is so beautifully written, so vivid, so visual. I couldn’t help but look forward to the film version. His large family owned and ran a motel. That fact that a child’s life revolves around living on the grounds of a motel is unique enough, but there is much more. Family relationships, both difficult and wonderful, are exquisitely conveyed here. And that is something we can all relate to. Although a part of his story difficult and upsetting, his struggles and joys are balanced. The love for his mother and grandmother really come through. Giving them their own voice is a gift of his love for them. I highly recommend this great read. And yes…the movie hopefully will not be far behind.
Jack M. W.
I just finished. I am overwhelmed. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and I feel as if I know these people. Thank you for sharing this; I am sure that it was not easy at times. I can tell that there is love on every single page.
Morris, your book is beautiful, but it’s breaking my heart.
Told from different points of view, this story of Morris Ardoin’s growing-up years evokes so many different emotions, from happiness in the love of his Memere to outrage at how he was treated by his father. I kept waiting for the part of the story where he finally paid his father back for all the abuse, but of course, it never came, because he’s a better person than I am. His understanding of the dynamics of his family shine through his story, and a remarkable one it is. Evocative of both time and place, this is a story that can be read on several levels, but it is a story that must be read. A great storyteller, and a compelling story, Stone Motel is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the time and the place, and most of all, what it’s like to grow up in a world where you’re different, and the price you sometimes have to pay for that. Highly recommended, and as a librarian who’s read thousands of books in my lifetime, this one stands out.
This is a beautifully written book that reads like a novel. As the story of Morris Ardoin’s family unfolded, I found myself rushing to find out what would happen; yet, stopping to savor his descriptions of the Stone Motel, his grandmother, and Cajun Louisiana. The author paints vivid pictures with his words. I was fascinated by the multiple layers in his writing: the story of a Cajun boy who overcomes abuse, drawing on the love and strength of his grandmother; the psychology in the unfolding of generational patterns in families; the relationships between family members; the recounting of a unique time and place in American culture; and, the multiple perspectives of the same events by different family members. I am looking forward to recommending this book and discussing it with my book club.
At times I felt like I could smell a roux being prepared for the next gumbo on a cold rainy night or the strong scent of the initial cloud of smoke from my own grandmother’s rolled cigarette. Morris Ardoin truly captures what it was like growing up in south Louisiana’s Cajun country. As most Cajun’s do, Morris welcomes you into his family and seats you at the table as he serves up the language, the foods, and the way of life that at times made me feel as though I was back in the 60’s and 70’s accompanying him on hunting trips, trips to his Mémère’s or playing a hand of bourré at the kitchen table. What a gifted storyteller Morris is. I hope you take a seat at his table and join him as he shares his loves, his losses, his fears, and his richly intimate and deeply loving emotional bonds he had with his Mémère and Pépère. I highly recommend this book.
I’ve read it twice because I couldn’t get enough of it. Heartsearingly honest and a perfect snapshot of a time and place gone by. Don’t miss the Audible book either. It’s perfection!
Well done, Mr. Ardoin. Your performance is the cherry on top. You do Eunice proud.
Many things to say about this book, but the underlying message would be to savor and then savor some more. It entices all of your senses. Morris walks you through his hometown and the surrounding areas and makes you feel like you have been there. He describes his family and friends and their relationships with care and clarity. You can feel the sultry summer days, damp chilly rains and most of all taste and smell the gumbo cooking on the stove. I read, reread, laughed and cried. It was truly an exquisite read, something I know I will come back to a read again.
Sincere, honest, and emotionally charged – this is a beautiful memoir that pulls the reader into the distinct Southern culture of the 1970s and reminds us that our roots run deep. Describing in vivid detail both the heartache and love that dominated his upbringing, Morris captures not only the spirit of youth but also the complexity of familial relationships. Well done and highly recommended.
Stone Motel took me back to growing up in Eunice. The use of Cajun phrases and Morris’s wonderful descriptive talents had me under the fig tree and in the oppressive Louisiana summers. I thought I knew the Ardoin family, the owners of the famous Stone Motel. I was a college roommate of Glenda’s and Morris’s for goodness sake. But this memoir opened my eyes to the complexities of living in an extra large family with a diverse group of personalities. I especially loved getting to know his Memere! Her big heart and her fear of being alone brought me to tears. I also laughed out loud at several of the kids’ adventures. This book is about so many themes: growing up, the magic of childhood, the love of family, AND the dangers, embarrassments, and disappointments of life. Yet what I’ll hold on to the longest is the author’s amazing ability to understand others, to see their perspectives, and to be able to forgive. His honesty and his compassion astound me!
This memoir is both exquisitely haunting and breathtakingly beautiful. I know this is a memoir, but it reads just as gorgeously as fiction as it does memoir. The pain and the joy spiral throughout this book never leaving the reader too long in one or the other, but rescuing the reader from the pain endured by also revealing great joys. There is pain, conditional and unconditional love, heartache, hope, cruelty, compassion, perseverance, dedication, deep fear, and family joy. Personal joy. I loved how he moved easily between points of view. I was never lost wondering who was speaking, it was clear each time he switched to a new character’s POV. His descriptions were vivid and lingering, leaving me with great pictures of the scenes while still reveling in what as happening in the scene and happily delving into what the characters were feeling. He is a master storyteller and his book was both a journey of the heart and entertainment.
I particularly loved how he didn’t highlight his sexuality for the sake of it, it just was his reality. He is what he is, and non-apologetically, rightfully so, illustrates for us his meandering journey, fully and honestly revealed in the end. It’s a fact, not a declaration. I liked that. A lot.
I cried. I laughed. I didn’t want it to end. Morris Ardoin’s writing style fills all your senses. I absolutely loved this book!
HIs descriptions of different snapshots of his childhood bring back such specific memories. No air conditioning, playing cards, siblings as closest friends. The dynamic of his family is alive and often wonderful. The reader can feel the sibling relationships as powerful and meaningful, often more meaningful than the parental relationships. This is true of families with many children. I truly enjoyed the visit to my own childhood with my siblings only one or two years between us. Life was simple, they now say, but life was truly complex and chaotic at times. Safety, like in grandparent’s homes, was a cherished time. Thank you for sharing your sometimes difficult childhood. Trigger warning, chapter 10 details discipline from a Southern parent in intimate detail.
From the prologue, when he introduces us to his siblings, his parents, and his grandparents to the epilogue, when he brings these up to the present and reflects on what a journey he has had and what he has learned about happiness, Ardoin keeps us engaged.
One thing I love about this memoir is that he chose not to tell the story chronologically. Though the main action centers around the motel, which his parents purchased in 1967, Ardoin slips back and forth in time, revealing his story in wonderful vignettes that fully develop his characters. Something else that he does structurally is to describe a few of the events, including a car crash and a brutal beating, from the point of view of more than one character. He creates a Rashomon effect that, to my mind, is simply genius. Finally, Ardoin is a master of detail. His meticulous eye (and ear) is truly astonishing. He brings the sights and sounds of these years to vivid life.
Having lived through my own version of this (being the same age and growing up under similar circumstances) I have nothing but praise for this author and his incredible journey. Wonderfully told with humor and tears, this touched my soul!
Just finished Stone Motel. Wow, wow, and wow. You should know that we had a terrible storm and the lights went out with about 80 pages to go. It was maybe 7 pm. I stood next to the window to read the next 40 or so pages until it got too dark. My phone had already died and I tried to read next to the one lit candle but it wasn’t working well. I remembered my wife’s phone which had a cracked screen hadn’t yet been sent back yet and had 40% battery power so for the next hour and a half I clicked the “home” button every 60 seconds or so, which enabled me to finish. I would have gone nuts if the thing died in the middle of reading the chapter in Momma’s voice. It is that much of a page-turner. I am glad I didn’t have to risk burning down the house to finish.
It was a great read, full of love, heartbreak, and thoroughly evocative of the time period in one of America’s most unique and colorful regions. You will get the frissons or verklempt, for those Northern Coonasses. The cherub playmate fleeing a terrible home life; the visit to the Peacock with mom, and visits to his Memere’s house; the fire, the nicknames for Monopoly properties, the electrical cord, his dad’s final hug….just a rollercoaster of tears and laughter and too many parts to mention. Its what great books are supposed to feel like.
I finished this touching memoir this morning and can offer no critique other than to say that every heartstring I possess has been shatteringly plucked, rhythmically strummed, and delightedly scintillated by this compilation of words, interactions and thoughts that only our Moe could have orchestrated. Shouting “BRAVO!” accompanied by a standing ovation to which I invite him to take a well deserved bow,…….after bow,…… after deep bow!Clay M.
It was fantastic. I felt like I was living at that time. In fact I was born on the property before the motel was built and knew the family very well. Highly suggest you read it.
I grew up near Eunice and this book brought up many fond memories of my life with my grandparents and the various tantes and noncs in your life. AND the fig trees lol…I loved it!
I encountered the physical Stone Motel only in passing, never close-up. At the time I moved to Eunice, there were few motels or hotels. Of course, Eunice is a small town, and folks had jokes about staying at the Stone Motel. It seems like an eternity ago. As Morris put his memoir together and occasionally discussed it online, I wanted to know more about the motel and its owners and occupants. The book brought me back more than 40 years. The human interactions and reactions show us that everyone has a story. What we see every day is only one part of reality. It is not the total picture. How we deal with our reality is important to our development, growth, and survival.
Awesome book! I couldn’t stop reading it! Thanks for sharing your childhood memories! Would DEFINITELY recommend!
I was drawn to [the book] by the author’s clever and heartwarming blog. I looked forward to reading his first book to experience more of the same. In fact, the book is far more than the blog. It’s a rare memoir that reads like a novel and a coming of age story that one experiences rather than watches. He has a powerful ability to draw his unique family, rich Cajun culture, abusive father, disappointed mother and his awakening sexuality as a rich fabric rather than a timeline. Ardoin’s appreciation for his family is moving and complex. His honesty is refreshing. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Knowing the author and growing up in that same small town did not prepare me for the emotional journey in this wonderful book. The settings, traditions, and language are told in such vivid detail that it would elicit smiles and tears as it took me back to a time and place I so often forget about and don’t appreciate nearly enough. Even if you aren’t familiar with the landscape, these cherished family memories of hope, love, and loss are so strong that it’s impossible not to relate to some part of it. Read Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy and let it open up those memories for you.
Now I know what the term “lost in a book” really means. This was a fabulous diversion from these tough times. It was an excellent story. I am so sorry it’s over. It touched my heart, made me cry, made me laugh. I am so glad to have known Morris, Gilda, Glenda, and Dickie, and yet I really knew so little of their difficult lives, and the grace with which they carried on.
Sally W. D.
This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time! I graduated from LSU and read about this book in one of the LSU publications. Like the author, I grew up in Louisiana and could relate to so much of what I read. Also, I loved reading about the siblings’ Canasta games because during my own childhood, my brother and I always played Canasta with my aunt and grandmother, and I feel so fortunate to have had those special times. However, these commonalities are not what really made me enjoy this book. Anyone from anywhere will enjoy this story that Ardoin tells. The story is brilliantly interesting and written beautifully, and I will be recommending it to others!
I loved the book. I am from Lafayette but spent many summers with my cousins in Eunice so this book really hit home on many levels – playing tennis, cards all summer long, Ville Platte, the Purple Peacock. I also come from a big family so I know how crazy that can be, but a blessing at the same time.
Absolutely fantastic book. Lived almost my whole life in Eunice and knew some of the family. So many things written about in this book brought back many memories for me. Some things that were written was heart wrenching … there are so many things that go on in our friend’s lives that we are never aware of. I knew the twins, Gilda and Glenda, in high school… they were a year ahead of me. Some of my best times in high school involved them. This book is so well written you feel like you’re in the middle of the story. Waiting and ready for another book from Morris!
Ardoin does an awesome job drawing in his readers…feel as though you are walking with him and his family. He undoubtedly will help many others heal their wounds of past family struggles…he has the ability to tell the story from the perspectives of family that caused him pain. Through his characters he is able to justify their actions through circumstances they endured earlier in their lives… highly recommend this book.
Read this book over the weekend. You just can’t put it down. I’ve known Moe for many years, but never new how difficult his life was growing up. Coming from a large family, they did have fun, but also worked hard too. You laugh and cry while reminiscing all the things his family went through. I highly recommend this book. You may not want to put it down either.
Gary W. M.
Ardoin shows a command of the English language. His talent is truly refreshing when reading this book set is a small south Louisiana town. He has the ability to make you laugh or cry is just a few sentences. This book is such an easy and joyous read!! Bravo!
A beautiful, heartbreaking, funny and touching memoir of life in a large and complicated family in a small Louisiana town.
Beautifully written. Invoked memories of my childhood in the south.
I grew up in the same town as the author. This book captures perfectly the rhythm and roll of life there in the 60s and 70s. I was transported back to my youth and was completely moved by the story of his family. I frequently laughed out loud. And cried as well. The love of his grandmother is palpable and their relationship gives you all the feels! Of course, a more complex story of his father’s relationship is heartbreaking. But, Morris pulls through with the love and support of the rest of his family and friends. I highly recommend the book. You will love it.
This is the first book I’ve finished since my brother died two years ago to the day. I mention this because, though I’ve tried reading other books these last two years, none engaged me enough to shut out the noise of life and my own turbulent thoughts. But [this] book did. I was genuinely interested in the family, the family dynamics, the struggles, the setting, the humors and the tragedy. [Ardoin] created such a rich and vibrant world that I feel like I would recognize it if I went there. I cried when I finished the book (a good cry), and looked up at the beautiful sunset feeling grateful for so many things, mostly for the human experience, which is what the book captures so beautifully. BRAVO!
“Wow!” is the first thing that comes to mind. I received the book at 9:00 a.m. yesterday and devoured it by 10:00 p.m. Poignant, revealing, with all the “feels,” I highly recommend Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy.
I just finished the book; very much enjoyed the read. Brought back so many of my own sweet memories of my grandparents. Bravo.
I was immediately consumed with the vivid details in each and every scene; I could smell the food, the air, and the multitude of aromas portrayed. I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally present in every animated scenario. My heart ached throughout but managed to find peace and happiness at the same time. Upon my completion of the book only moments ago, I find myself in complete admiration of the author – for his ability to relive so many moments of agony, for his willingness to “let things go,” and for the platform his story will create for others who may see themselves in him.
I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Didn’t want it to end.
I think this book is my all time favorite. I laughed and cried-sometimes at the same time! So well written. Can’t wait to share it with all of my friends and family.
Jackie C. D.
It’s truly so heart wrenching and at the same time, so heart warming. There were parts of the story where I shed many tears. It just amazes me that we all have a story to tell but this one will be etched in my heart forever. I am so grateful for the unconditional love of Morris’s precious Memere. I feel like I know her know now and her love for sharing her lagniappe.
I loved it. It was funny it made me glad and sad. I laughed and cried. Great read. Loved the visit to the Purple Peacock.
It takes a special kind of writer to make the reader feel the words and not just see them. [Ardoin is] that kind of writer. I laughed with him, cried with him, felt every word and every paragraph. Splendid work.
Just finished the book. I couldn’t stop crying. It touched my heart so much. The relationship with his Memere was so much like my own with dear MaMa. It brought back so many emotions for me. I loved the little touches of all the French sayings that we used in my family as well. What a journey. It took me back in time to a place that holds dear to my heart.
I could not put this book down! The author paints a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up in a small Cajun town in Louisiana. A coming-of-age story, Ardoin describes his relationship with his siblings, parents and grandparents – all incredibly interesting characters. His hardworking parents – his father worked seven days a week to keep the motel running and his mother, who owned and operated a beauty shop, and helped manage the motel after a long day’s work at the shop, all the while taking care of her large family. Not all is sweetness and light for Ardoin was beaten by his father, who was unable to accept a gay son. Ardoin’s saving grace, so to speak, was a his loving mother and grandparents, who are described with warmth and a sense of humor. Another character is Cajun Louisiana itself, which Ardoin has fond feelings for, despite its stifling, sticky heat in the summer. He also has fond feelings for the Cajun language, and brings his characters to life with the Cajun patois he loves.
The Stone Motel has always been an object of curiosity for me. I grew up in the same city as the motel and I always heard whispers and rumors about the goings on there, such as the ghosts of those that never checked out. Nothing I had heard prepared me for what I read. Ardoin’s writing is a powerful impressionist piece that engages all of the senses and emotions and should be savored. The book is a series of vignettes that reads like a diary—a haunting, personal tale that makes you realize those ghosts are still there, but those ghosts are Ardoin’s memories and they will forever inhabit your memory as well.
I’m not a huge memoir reader but I’ve always been fascinated by Louisiana history. I really enjoyed this first person look at growing up in Cajun country. The writing is lyrical, the scenes vivid, and story often heartbreaking. There was a lot of exploration of what it was like to grow up with a father who had seen the horrors of war. My mom has talked about this with her own father, so I’m sending her this book because I think she might see some of herself in these pages as well. A really thoughtful read. The story has stayed with me for the past few days since I have finished.
Beautiful. For all its hardships and pain, this family story and personal memoir is heart-breakingly beautiful and filled with moments of triumph and joy.
A heartfelt personal history that portrays a unique people and place with its sweetness and brutality that takes readers into the author’s experience.
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