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Analysis of The Perpetual Motion Machine by Brittany Ackerma – Literature review

Analysis of The Perpetual Motion Machine by Brittany Ackerman

While writing The Perpetual Motion Machine, Ackerman thought that her brother could save the world through a perpetual motion machine which he built while in high school. In the novel, Ackerman describes several events taking place in his life, and through his experiences, people understand the importance of memories in people’s lives. As a memoir essay, the novel attempts to explain past impossibilities which impacted Ackerman’s life. Throughout her life, Ackerman endured many challenges such as dealing with fighting parents, a factor that she claimed: “affected her life” (Ackerman 16). As time passed by, her brother grew up quicker than her which made Ackerman feel stuck in perpetual motion and her only hope was that her brother would save her with the motion machine. Later on, her brother sank into a suicidal depression which consumed his life. Ackerman story is compelling not only because of the story that she tells, but also the series of events as well as major transitions in her life which symbolize a shattered nature of her life and similarly, the life of her family members.

The perpetual motion machine plays a critical role in the study of memory because it compiles information of Ackerman and her childhood stories. Through the novel, people in the world understand the importance of childhood experiences in people’s future lives. Her childhood experiences influenced most of the activities she performed, and they contributed to shaping her identity. Consequently, the book acted as a collection of a science project which aimed at studying the human mind as envisioned by Skyler.

 While growing up in New York, Ackerman’s happiness developed because of living in a conducive environment and at times, she envied her brothers growth because she felt younger to her brother. Growing up with uneasy feelings allows children to develop negative attitudes as well as inappropriate behaviors which dictate their lives. As such, Ackerman “dealt with marijuana and other drugs so that she can overcome her fears in life” (Ackerman 12). The depressed condition of her brother contributed to changing her life because it allowed her to view life from a different angle. 

In life, many people yearn for an ideal brother who introduces them to new crazy adventures and protects them during serious moments. Such idealized qualities of a brother resurface when people read through introductory chapters of Brittany’s book. Brittany thought that his brother would become an ideal person whom they would engage in breathtaking activities as they grew up. While they grew up, Ackerman realized that her brother grew faster than her and thus, she developed feelings of insecurity. Feelings of insecurity made the two siblings grow apart, and with that, her memories allowed her to compile the collection which she named The Perpetual Motion Machine.

Through the novel, Ackerman tries to explain methods of how she will save his brother from misery. Throughout the story, Ackerman gathers notes, experiences, and findings which helps her audience understand her experiment which featured missions meant to change her life. Events which occurred in her life for example adventures shared between Skyler and Ackerman helps in establishing brother-sister bonds. Analyzing the relationship between the two siblings in the novel helps in understanding the challenges faced by two siblings who tried to save themselves from a fractured life.

The perpetual motion machine mentioned by Ackerman plays a critical role in Ackerman’s memoir because it provides information about Skyler, Ackerman’s brother. When they were in high school, Skyler attempted to build a perpetual motion machine which would save the world in the future. The memoir by Ackerman provides details of an essential section of her life while growing up in “different places in the world” (Ackerman 23). Through her experiences, Ackerman indicates that her life contains aspects she considers as “perpetual motions” which dictate major events she undertakes to partake.

  Writing personal narratives as indicated in the novel by Ackerman helps in understanding people’s personalities. While growing up, activities which took place in the author’s life such as relocating to other areas and development transformations influenced the author’s life because they contained elements which shaped up the author’s character. For example, while growing up in New York, the author enjoyed living there, and through experiences in that region, she was able to live a comfortable life thus engaged in activities such as attending school as indicated in the following statement “I was s very happy in New York City” (24).

Creation of The Perpetual Motion Machine was symbolic in Ackerman’s life. In physics, according to Cullen, a perpetual motion machine is a machine which moves continuously (10). Compiling up the memoir marked a significant step in analyzing the life of Ackerman and her family. Since her birth, her life started moving, and with time, she transformed from being a young child to a young adult. Transformations taking place in her life revolve around forming a continuous cycle. Similarly, her family encounters many adventures, but life keeps on moving in a perpetual motion despite critical drawbacks. Therefore, the novel’s title represents symbols meant to introduce readers to a series of evolutions in people’s lives.


To a more considerable extent, The Perpetual Motion Machine shares simple memories of Ackerman since her youthful years. Consequently, there’s an underpinning of sadness through each scene and levels of anxiety and an uncertain future keeps occurring in all stages of Brittany’s life. At certain moments, she writes letters to her brother which show their relationship and the fun times the two siblings shared. Even though Brittany strives to describe her life, she forgets to indicate her current life which creates suspense in the novel’s fans — as the two children transformed to adults, moments shared created confusions about their true identity because the two parties provided clear information.

 Generally, the idea of “motion machine” helped Ackerman meet her goals in writing a personal narrative. Through the introduction of a motion machine, Ackerman introduced her audience to a series of activities which includes diverse settings and description of rare events which make up the story. Through Ackerman’s memoir, the world correlates with her anxiety and fears which helps in making up her personality.

 In conclusion, the idea of “perpetual motion machine” and an introduction of rare events contributed to the development of the plot as well as the establishment of the groundwork for essential themes such as family. The inclusion of diverse topics in the novel helped in making the novel successful because it contained many stories which people easily relate to. Through examining the experience which she went through as a child and a young adult, Ackerman cuts across other people’s lives experiences which enable the story to contain many themes. Drug addiction, depression, and anxiety are significant problems in the world, and by reading them in books, people in the world are enlightened and develop methods of addressing the menace because it contributes to severe effects such as death and loss of bonds among families. 

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