Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

This I Remember is a year-by-year, term-by-term account of Eleanor Roosevelt’s experiences and work during her husband’s political career as governor of New York and president of the United States. Noting that she had covered her earlier life in a previous book, she begins her detailed narrative in 1921, using Franklin D. Roosevelt’s terms of office to provide organizational structure. The book is strictly chronological in arrangement, but separate chapters are devoted to events of particular significance in Eleanor Roosevelt’s life, such as the visit of the British royal family to Washington, D.C., her involvement with the American Youth Congress, and her trips during World War II.

There are two main themes in This I Remember. It is, on the one hand, an account of Roosevelt’s life as wife and mother. On the other hand, the book tells the story of her work to make life better in the United States and to serve as an agent of her husband. She was the latter partially because his disability restricted his mobility and partially because of his respect for her knowledge and ability. Her use of Franklin’s career as structure for the narrative is very useful in keeping all the events set in a general context, a vital element in preventing a book of memoirs from becoming insular.

The reader can also follow the evolution of Roosevelt from the relatively shy and idealistic wife of a politician into a forceful person in her...

(The entire section is 449 words.)