Three star review, originally posted here on December 28, 2020.
There wasn’t anything wrong with this book that I can put my finger on, but it somehow just didn’t click with me. I think our narrator’s experiences are so very different from my own that I’m having trouble relating, and where plenty of memoirs succeed in making me feel as though I am in the author’s shoes, this one did not. What I can’t quite understand is why not. But by the end of the book, I still feel as though I don’t really know Trethewey, nor do I feel as though I know her mother.
The one chapter that DID have a really strong impact on me was the one that Trethewey did not herself write. She includes a transcript of phone calls between Trethewey’s mother and stepfather shortly before he killed her. It was absolutely chilling, listening to the terrifying garbage that an abuser will hurl at his victim. Of course, this was made even more heartbreaking by the fact that, by the time Trethewey’s mother got around to recording these conversations for evidence, she knew exactly what this man was capable of. His attack was completely expected and predictable. And yet it was not prevented. This is a story we’ve heard countless times, and yet somehow it is a cycle of violence we allow to continue. It is one of our greatest failures.