The reader is carried along on the journey of a small girl, her tumultuous relationship with her mother and her long search for the man who was her father.
Bonnie Barnett’s Bobo’s Daughter begins in South Central Los Angeles. The year is 1952, it is a noticeably different area than is the South Central we often hear mentioned on the evening news today. It was nice place for a little girl growing up. All was going to change.
One Saturday morning four year old Bonnie’s mom; with Bonnie in tow set out to meet the man Bonnie realized was told was her father. The pair entered a very different world filled with horses and elephants, trailers and trucks and little pens filled with small barking dogs and even a giraffe. It was all a bit overwhelming for a little girl. Suddenly a large person in torn, musty clothing appeared; he had red and black and white paint on his face. Lifting Bonnie the man said, -How about a kiss for your ol daddy?-
Before long a troupe of folks appeared, some wearing face paint, some in sequined costume, they all seemed to know who Bonnie was and; they even her Mom, Dottie. Known as Jojo Barnett, Dorothy was the first girl clown. Bonnie and her mom left the circus alone, it was the last time Bonnie saw her dad for many years.
From that point the reader is carried along on the journey of a small girl, her tumultuous relationship with her mother and her long search for the man who was her father.
Chester "Bobo" Barnett, the Prince of Clowns, was a gifted, witty, charismatic humorous performer, who was beset with of the faults and peccadilloes as are part of the life of us all. Jojo and Bobo were unable to sustain a relationship, and their child suffered because of it.
As a clown Bobo Barnett spent much of his life bringing pleasure and amusement for adults and children across the nation and around the world. Regrettably, his immediate family; wife and daughter were not among those he sought to please.
Bobo's Daughter is a touching account of a small child surrounded by paucity and melancholy. Realizing that her birth came as the result of an unwanted pregnancy; Barnett recounts her early life in vivid detail. She narrates, the actions in her parents' lives that led them to become entertainers; i.e. circus clowns, and those actions which that led to her parents' divorce. Barnett includes details regarding her parents including how they came to be clowns and the fact that they were of the generation who lived during the so called Great Depression. The importance of low cost entertainment during that bleak era cannot be minimized.
Motivated by a potent need to gain knowledge of family she never knew, Barnett undertook the investigation as an adult which led to her understanding her parents better and to ultimately finding her truant father.
Effectively forsaken by her father and resented by her mother, Barnett grew up feeling alone and lonesome. Having a mother who was neither willing nor capable to ease the emptiness caused by her father’s neglect; Barnett craved acceptance as his daughter as she pined for her father's consideration.
The strained association Barnett had with her mother, who had given up her own flourishing clowning career to raise her alone, in poverty, was no doubt a troubling situation for both. In spite of everything, Barnett did learn to look further than the hurts and discover feelings of satisfaction and acceptance for her multifaceted and versatile parents.
Despite having none of the familial support many of us enjoy, Barnett did work her way through school, achieved a Bachelors in Art and a Masters in psychology prior to her becoming a family therapist.
Barnett recounts that during her search to find her biological father, she also realized that she had found her Heavenly Father as well. Her deep faith in God is evident in her writing, quoting of scripture and activities of her life.
I enjoyed the addition of a number of photos of her parents, in particular of her dad and the little dogs that were an integral part of his act. Chester Barnett and his wife are shown in street dress as well as in full clown attire.
Bobo's Daughter offers the reader a peek into the man who was Bobo, the clown and some of the life experienced by those who choose a career in the circus. I particularly enjoyed Barnett’s mention of another clown, Otto Greibling. Greibling had been friends with Jojo and Bobo, Barnett sought his help in locating her dad. While I did not know Mr Greibling; I taught school with Greibling’s daughter in law in the San Joaquin Valley, California. I was nice to find a familiar name listed in the account.
While Bobo’s Daughter is not an –and they all lived happily ever after- type write it is a well written, easily readable account of one woman’s successful search for the parent she missed during childhood and the reconciliation of hope, reality and certainty.
Happy to Recommend Bonnie Barnett’s Bobo’s Daughter.
Reviewed by Molly’s Reviews
Product Details and Shipping Information from Amazon
TITLE Bobo’s Daughter
AUTHOR Bonnie Barnett
Hardcover: 232 pages
Publisher: Synergy Books
About the Author
Bonnie Ann Barnett was first trained as an artist, later becoming a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. During her life a central theme has motivated her to find the members of her estranged family, leading her to writing this book.
Originally from Los Angeles, she is currently living in North Carolina with her family and a menagerie of critters and California dreaming.