A complex story of secrets, a memoir spanning decades of searching, as the author, her two siblings and her parents, (each of them, separately and in their own anguished way) navigate a world shrouded in visceral pain and uncertainty – just who, exactly, are they, deep inside – who are they meant to be, and how do they navigate their lives accordingly?
Partly a reckoning of gender identities and the profound impact self-authenticity has on mental and physical health (or the reverse), and partly a love story, exploring the complexity of emotional healing at both the individual and family level – this is a family more fractured than most, at its very core, making for an absorbing, heart-rending and deeply fascinating read.
As her life veers as far off track as may be possible, the author spends her teen years isolated, shamed, and angry, mainly doomed to hideously-troubling confrontations with her mother, (who is herself now depressive, unpredictable and self-harming) as in the deepest reality, both wage harsher destructive wars within themselves.
Labeled a problem child, a teen with issues that render her responsible for her own hurt, it will take decades for the author to resolve and separate out the truth from these prescribed family fictions – narratives that are told, unconsciously held in place by fear and shame – in a desperate attempt to hold a tragically broken family together.
Barely out of their teen years, and unable to understand or face the realities that are underlying their dysfunctional family’s destructive patterns , it is not until the first secret unwittingly cracks wide open that some semblance of truth, and the beginnings of a longer-term resolution, may in fact begin to emerge.
What follows is a harrowing journey, decades in the making, into loss, transformation and rebirth – each stage an integral pathway every family member must first follow alone, before they can come together as a family in support of each other.
Without giving the plot away (no spoilers here), this is a book unlike any other memoir this reader has had the good fortune to read, – a story told of equal parts tenderness and tragedy, both struggling for expression and an opportunity to be heard.
I could not put this one down, and will be thinking about it for some time to come.
A great big thank you to #HarperCollinsCa and the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.