Rating: 3 / 5
At 15, Sheri begins a nine year tenure at an inner city funeral home. Alfred P Wylie’s funeral home is a success, which speaks volumes for Wylie, who came from a humble beginnings and relied heavily on his street smarts. The premise of Nine Years Under is interesting, but it definitely wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, nor did it have the character depth or coming of age theme I expected.
The inner workings of a funeral home were interesting, especially one that caters to a black community. However, the memoir overall needed to be tightened up. For example, throughout the memoir, Booker mentions her mother’s illness, but by the last page, the reader doesn’t know what happened. Also, the nine years working at the funeral home felt more like a year and a half. I remember being slightly shocked when I started a chapter and read that by that time, Booker had spent seven years working for Wylie. An area I wish Booker had expanded upon was Wylie’s life. At the beginning, he was described as congenial and caring. By the end of the book, however, Booker had described him as mercurial; throughout the years there seemed to be a slow transformation with Wylie, but Booker didn’t really describe the change, so Wylie ended up sounding like two completely different characters.
Some of emotions seemed contrived and unconvincing, but I think that has more to do with Booker’s age and maturity during her years at the funeral home, but also because of her age when writing this memoir. She hasn’t lived long enough to write with wisdom about her time at the funeral home, and while I applaud her efforts, I can’t help but think Nine Years Under would be more satisfying had she written it later in life.