By Natasha Trethewey
Ecco, 9780062248589, June 2021, 224pp.
The Short of It:
A beautiful, heartbreaking memoir. If memoirs aren’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from picking this one up.
The Rest of It:
“Natasha Trethewey was 19 when her mother was murdered by her stepfather in 1985. For decades, she hid the event, and memories of her mother, in the recesses of her mind while she went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and become the Poet Laureate of the United States. Now, decades later, she opens herself up to her past to produce a harrowing yet beautiful memorial.”
— Mike Hare, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
My book club chose this book for March. Initially I had a hard time finding a library copy so I went with the audio, which is just beautiful but just a few chapters in, I knew I’d want to own a copy so I bought the paperback. Trethewey is a poet so the passages are often heartbreakingly beautiful. I found myself reading a chapter and then taking a little time to sit with it before moving on to the next. I first heard about this book when Obama chose it for one of his “best of” lists. He’s not wrong.
Besides the beauty of the written word itself, I could not help but be affected by Trethewey’s grief and obvious pain over her mother’s death at the hand of her stepfather. Both mother and daughter dealt with his abuse. Steps were taken to ensure their safety, and yet the legal system still failed them. The murder took place in 1985 but really, when it comes to domestic violence not a whole lot has changed.
While reading this book, I was reminded of all the drama over Kanye and his recent threats to Pete Davidson, who is now dating Kanye’s ex. That celebrity couple is in the public eye. The rants and threats are made publicly and still, little is being done. Trevor Noah recently called it out. If a women like Kim K can’t feel protected, then who can?
While discussing this book, many of Trethewey’s poems were shared and they are just beautiful. If you decide to pick this book up, check out her other works too.
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7 thoughts on “Review: Memorial Drive”
I hope the book club also enjoyed this memoir. It is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.
I love memoirs and this sounds promising, but the subject matter may be too close to home for me. My stepdaughter was murdered by her former boyfriend in 2005. She left behind a 2 year daughter who is now almost 20. Maybe I’ll see if I can get it at the library and tread gently into the story…
Oh Lesley, that’s just horrible. It brought up some memories for me as well. When I was about 5 years old, I went to my friend’s house across the way and walked in on her mom’s dead body. Beheaded, no less. But I will say that this memoir’s subject matter is handled very well.
It was horrible and such a terrible loss. Your memory of your friend’s mother is awful, too. I can’t imagine a child of 5 years of age discovering something so horrific as you did, Ti. The world can be such an ugly place at times. Thank goodness our minds allow our hearts to eventually heal.
Adding to my list!
You make a good point – about the threats to Kim K & Pete D. Gosh this memoir sounds heartbreaking. And it angers me too … about the stepfather’s abuse. It’s enraging. This author sounds like a good writer! with a poet’s sensibilities.
This sounds so well done and what an interesting thing to combine the beautiful writing of poetry with such a dark subject.