At first, I was put off by Simmons’s old-fashioned formality, but by the end I came to admire the toughness and grace inherent in her decision to remain moderate and forward-looking ... Up Home shows us well how this dignified, powerful woman looks back in wonder at how she got over.
On its surface Simmons’s memoir reads like a coming-of-age tale of remarkable success despite the author’s humble beginnings, a victory lap for a woman who’s achieved far more, academically and professionally, than many women of her generation. But the venerated college administrator upends and elevates that predictable theme with frequent, self-assessing asides in which she wonders if, in her quest to escape her surroundings, she judged them too harshly ... In writing a memoir with such an acute focus on the life she left behind, Simmons provides an instructive guide for those who straddle this line between a difficult past and an exultant present. Though the final third of the memoir seems rushed as she breezes through major life events like graduations, marriage, children and divorce, Simmons has succeeded in writing a measured and thoughtful account of her Before and After.