Do you have a hard time remembering what it was like to be a kid? I do. I think that’s why I’m so interested in books that give me insights into a child’s world.

One book that does that for me extremely well is: Too Close To The Falls by Catherine Gildiner. Catherine seems to have a near-photographic memory of childhood memories in the 1950s, right down to the smallest details.

And what a unique and interesting childhood it was! Little Cathy was reading by age four, and seemed to have been “born eccentric,” as her mother described it. Plus, she was constantly getting herself into trouble. The family doctor gave the following diagnosis: “Everyone has an internal metronome, but Cathy’s is ticking twice as fast as everyone else’s.”

The doctor advised giving Cathy plenty of activities to burn off her energy. Cathy’s father owned a pharmacy in Niagara Falls, so at age 4, Cathy began working in the pharmacy before and after school.

Since she could read, Cathy rode along with Roy, a black man who had never learned to read, to help him make deliveries all over the county. Cathy would read the map and give Roy directions.

In episodes that are sometimes hilarious, sometimes moving, Catherine shares stories of some of their memorable deliveries—bringing sleeping pills to Marilyn Monroe (who was in town filming Niagara); sedatives to Mad Bear, a violent Tuscarora chief; and fungus cream to Warty, the general operator of the town dump

Shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Trillium Award, Too Close To The Falls is a unique portrait of life seen through the eyes of an innocent yet incredibly worldly child.

If you enjoy Too Close To the Falls, Gildiner has also published follow-up memoirs, After The Falls, about her teenage years, and Coming Ashore, about college and beyond.

As an adult, Gildiner became a therapist and has also a published a book about her experiences with some of her clients. It’s titled, Good Morning, Monster, and it’s on the bestseller lists. A fascinating read.

Gildiner writes like a novelist. But she is really at her best when she is helping us to get inside the skin of an unusual little girl who is trying to figure life out.