At the beginning of the year I took on a reading challenge, and I asked people for their suggestions on indie books they’ve enjoyed reading. The only rules were that you couldn’t suggest more than one (like that stopped you) and you couldn’t promote your own book. The post had a great response (and I’m still looking for more, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know). One of the books suggested was today’s recommended read, the memoir On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened by Lori Schafer.
It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.
Then came my mother’s psychosis.
I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.
My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own.
But I did. That was how my mother – my real mother – raised me. To survive.
She, too, was a survivor. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that she had died – in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine.
I don’t usually read memoirs. The ones I have, usually celebrity memoirs, come across as self-indulgent, glossing over darker aspects of their personalities (except the ones they are happy to promote) and promoting their virtues. You certainly couldn’t say that for On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened. This is a heart-wrenching look into life of the author, as a teenaged girl, being raised by a mother with mental illness, written plainly but beautifully, with no embellishment or self-justification. By the end you feel in awe of the author for having survived the ordeal, although as is made clear, it’s not clear if the effects of the experience have ever actually ended.
The book isn’t written chronologically because the author struggles to remember what happened in what order. There are some passages that have been written as fiction because after all these years it’s the only way she convey the feeling of what happened effectively. While some may find this off-putting, to me these stylistic tics only gave added weight to what I was reading.
The memoir itself is short, I read it in a day, but that breath gives it added punch. I can only applaud Lori Schafer for having the courage to write something so personal, so honestly. It’s a book that will stay with me a long time. Highly Recommended.
To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.co.uk click here
To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.com click here
Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.