Arrivals: Memoirs that reveal the dark, disturbing side of family life
|Toronto Star 03 Dec 2019 at 12:15|
When Adrienne Brodeur was 14, her mother, Malabar, came into her bedroom after a dinner party, woke her up and whispered, “Ben Souther just kissed me.” With those words, mother and daughter’s lives changed forever. Adrienne became Malabar’s confidante, co-conspirator and accomplice as she listened and lied to keep her self-involved mother’s affair a secret from her stepfather, who was Ben’s best friend, and Ben’s wife, who was Malabar’s best friend. A cinematic memoir, with a privileged Cape Code backdrop (Ben was a direct descendant of the Mayflower Pilgrims), gourmet cooking and several surprises.
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, Axton Betz-Hamilton
At first glance, Axton Betz-Hamilton’s memoir is designed to teach readers how identity theft destroys innocent people, but this particular story just gets weirder as it progresses. An only child living with her mom and dad in rural Indiana, the author recounts how the family’s bewilderment morphs into paranoia as mail goes missing, the utilities are turned off, foreclosure notices arrive and a sheriff comes to arrest her mother for fraud. Soon the family is living with the drapes drawn, trusting no one. As a result of her experience, Betz-Hamilton has made consumer protection her life’s work.
Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman, Abby Chava Stein
The author grew up in Brooklyn in a Hasidic rabbinical family that lived by the rules of 18th century eastern European Jews. At the age of four, sitting in the bathtub stabbing her penis with pins, she announced to her mother that her anatomy was wrong: “It is a mistake ... I want to be a girl,” a conviction that persisted through her teens, through rabbinical school, through an arranged marriage and the birth of a son, until she left her family and started living as a woman. A fascinating memoir, as much for its depictions of ultra-Orthodox Judaism as for its story of gender reassignment.
Blood: A Memoir, Allison Moorer
On Aug. 12, 1986, in Mobile, Ala., Vernon Moorer shot his wife, Laura Lynn Moorer, then killed himself, leaving orphans of the author, then 14, and sister Shelby, 17. This is the story of a family steeped in country music and the heartache and tragedy that often inspire it. Both Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne are today successful musicians out of Nashville. This memoir is Allison’s attempt to come to terms with this life-altering event. An album, Blood, was released within days of the book.
Wild Life: Dispatches from a Childhood of Baboons and Button-Downs, Keena Roberts
Keena Roberts grew up betwixt and between. Her parents were primate researchers, and for great chunks of time the family lived in a tent near a baboon colony in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, with wild animals — lions, elephants, hyenas and other dangerous creatures — all around them. Their remaining time was spent in Philadelphia, where the girls attended an elite private school and the dangerous creatures included mean girls roaming the halls and prank-calling boys.