5 Squares by Bonita McIlvaine


squaresA mishmash of stories, 5 Squares focuses mainly on the life and experiences of Bonita McIlvaine. In the early pages, McIlvaine expresses that the five squares included her and four of her closest girl friends. The implication was that 5 Squares was going to be a recap of exciting and, perhaps shocking, adventures of five naive young women. Yet, as the story unfolds there isn’t nearly as much about her friends and their adventures as expected. On the other hand, there seems to be a huge focus on Bonita’s father, John Charles McIlvaine, Sr., and her adoration of him. While adoring one’s father is beauitful, this was an unanticipated aspect to 5 Squares. McIlvaine shares long lists of famous and well-known people that she and her family knew personally as well as casually, but there is little story to any of these connections. At one point, she tells how she dated and was in love with a pimp for many years, but this story is quite short and offers next to no exciting stories either. In the end, Bonita McIlvaine tells a tale of a stranger contacting her in regards to her mother. She learns things she never knew about her mom, but again the reader is left to wonder what more really happened. On top of that, this final story doesn’t make sense in regards to wrapping up 5 Squares. It almost seems “out-of-the-blue” just as its chapter is entitled.

Clearly from 5 Squares, Bonita McIlvaine lived a life that few might ever dream of, but the book sorely lacks in bringing back to life the excitement, adventure, potential danger, and intrigue that must have been present. Instead, McIlvaine’s compilation of memories is chaotic and too often just a list of who’s who and the mundane activities of life. There are a number of old photos, tickets, letters and business cards shared in 5 Squares. Some of these are interesting while others seem more like page fillers than supportive to the story. Bonita McIlvaine’s 5 Squares will make for a great book to pass down to her family, but it is unlikely to be overly interesting to a wide audience.

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