Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl’s Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age (Written by Coco Irvine, Peg Meier)
By ABBY HORTON
I must admit, I am one for any type of historical book. As I have gotten older and my reading tastes have developed, I find that I enjoy reading about the lives of prominent families, especially if they have any connection to my own.
Living in St. Paul, I can sometimes find it hard to find these books, but recently I was gifted Through No Fault of My Own and I devoured this book in just a few short hours. On Christmas Day, 1926, twelve-year-old Clotilde ‘Coco’ Irvine received a blank diary as a present. Coco loved to write – and often got into trouble – and took the opportunity to document her sides of her scrapes; “I’m in deep trouble through no fault of my own”, her entries frequently began. As the daughter of a wealthy lumber baron, Coco grew up in a fashionable 20-room mansion on Summit Ave (now the Minnesota Governor Residence), in the peak of the Jazz Age, where music, art and dancing were in full swing.
In her diary, Coco carefully records her adventures, problems and romances, written in a way only a 12-13-year-old girl can. While still being on a prominent side of life during the Jazz Age, her diary reveals that her social class did not diminish the typical concerns of a teenager: having a boyfriend, breaking rules, and getting into trouble with her parents.
Additionally to Coco’s diary is a foreword and afterword by Peg Meier, a former journalist for the Star Tribune, and writer of many popular books such as Wishing for a Snow Day, Bring Warm Clothes and Too Hot, Went to Lake. Meier disclosed about more of Coco’s life not displayed in the book, including more information about the Jazz Age, her daily life and photos of her life after the diary.
Overall, Through No Fault of My Own was an interesting read. I enjoyed seeing things from Coco’s perspective, especially after reading about similar circumstances from a reporter. I didn’t like how Coco would often complain about her life while having such a prominent, wealthy lifestyle. Other than that, I am disappointed that it ended where it did, as I am aware there was more of the diary. Being such a short, 84-page book – 28 being the combined foreword and afterword – more of the book would have been appreciated.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a short read, especially those intrigued by historical memoirs. Altogether I enjoyed this book and was sad to finish it. This was in no way a hard book to get through, although some entries can be a bit more mature, I’d recommend this book for readers 12 and up.