Note: I received a digital copy of On Hearing of My Mother’s Death from the author for review consideration.
I’m not usually a fan of serious memoirs, but this short book gave me plenty of food for thought. As a teenager, the author’s mother became affected by some psychosis–it was never determined what, although some signs point toward schizophrenia–and Lori’s life is changed forever. As an adult, she finds out about her mother’s death six years after it occurred, and this spurred Lori to explore her complicated relationship with her mother and recount the events of her teen years.
This memoir is told through a series of memories, short stories from the author’s life. They’re not told in chronological order–something that usually bothers me, but I thought worked well in this setting. It really gave the feeling of walking through the memories with the author as she attempts to sort out her complicated feelings about her mother. Because Lori’s mother hadn’t always been this way, hiding from people she thought wanted to harm her and her daughter, sitting outside Lori’s classrooms at school, and traveling long distances to escape perceived dangers. She had been a strong, independent single mother, whose independence seems to have rubbed off on Lori, as she runs away from her mother at age seventeen and lives in her car for months before finally getting on her feet.
Despite all the craziness Lori’s mother put her through and the rough, homeless months that followed Lori’s escape, this memoir doesn’t come across as bitter or resentful. It’s more an exploration of how terribly wrong things can go when the one who is supposed to protect and guide you no longer has the capacity to do so. It’s a really quick read, but one that will leave you thinking even after you put the book down.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good