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Memoir Monday May Roundup with an emphasis on Motherhood & Mental Illness

By Leslie Lindsay May is all about growth. Spring is in full bloom; and it’s a time for recognition and celebration, but it can also be a loaded month. Over thirty years ago this month, my mother devolved into psychosis. We were estranged starting in my tweens, until her suicide over six years ago. How does that leave me to mother my own daughters? Would I fall victim to the same genetic legacy? Could I break the cycle of poor mother-daughter relationships? And how do I celebrate Mother’s Day with no mother? How did I celebrate my mother when she was alive and not capable of being much of one? “I am so grateful to have this conversation with you. It means a great deal respond to someone who has so carefully read my work and I’m thankful to have this opportunity to reflect in this way.” -Vince Granta, EVERYTHING’S FINE For the entire month of May, I’ve featured some really wise and thoughtful authors–they’ve courageously shared their relationships with their mothers, opened up about …

Poet MOLLY SPENCEr talks about her astonishing, award-winning collection, HINGE; serious illness, the body, growing up in orchards, how obsessions can often lead us to our writing material, PLUS the structure of roofs.

By Leslie Lindsay  Myth, legend, landscape…lush and razor-sharp lines…HINGE is exactly that: revealing and concealing–sometimes squeaky–moments in time. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~  POETRY FRIDAY Aside from the arresting cover, HINGE by Molly Spencer (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, 2020) is a gorgeous meditation of motherhood, the passage of time, a stunted world–in terms of all–land, home, marriage, and body. There’s a great deal of tension and then well-earned release, the world and imagery rich in details and texture, about creation and recreation, told in a simply elegant, yet mournful voice. I have a wealth of images trapped in my mind from the words–and worlds–created within these pages. It’s about space and homes and how they all tie together, but also seasons and cycles and interiority. HINGE is the perfect read for the bleaker days of late fall, into winter, as we naturally fold within ourselves. Molly Spencer’s poetry has appeared in various well-known and recognized literary journals. She is a poetry editor for Rumpus, and this collection won the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition in Poetry 2019. Please join me …

what if your parents left you at age 15 for another coutnry? THE MAGICAL LANGUAGE OF OTHERS by E.J. Koh talks about this, letting go, self-hood, and more

By Leslie Lindsay Powerful, raw, and elegant memoir about mothers and daughters, legacy, generations, and distance–or perhaps, abandonment.  ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ + Writing Exercise  After nearly a decade living in the United States, E.J. Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen year old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California, alone. Overnight, this young girl finds herself adrift in a world without her mother, lacking structure. But over the course of time–and the time keeps increasing as her parents extend their work contract in South Korea–her mother sends letters written in Korean. Eun Ji cannot fully understand these letters until she is much older, once she becomes a translator.  As an adult, a writer, poet, translator, Eun Ji sifts through these letters in THE MAGICAL LANGUAGE OF OTHERS (Tin House Books, 2020)–and her past–seeking the tenuous thread that ties them all together, discovering striking similarities between them.  My heart broke for Eun Ji–my own daughter is fifteen–it’s a tender, vulnerable age, somewhere between being an adult and craving the …

Matt Haig talks about his instant new york times bestseller THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, ‘trying on’ different lives, anxiety, depression, suicide, and the magical aspect of libraries

By Leslie Lindsay  A sublime, dazzling novel of what it means to make choices–and how non-choices are a choice, and then living a life well-lived. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ An instant New York Times bestseller A GOOD MORNING AMERICA Book Club Pick What’s not to love about a book that takes place in a library? At midnight? Okay, maybe the ‘midnight’ part, because, let’s face it, you can’t start a book at midnight like you can’t go to the 9pm movie. You’ll fall asleep. But, that’s beyond the point. I quickly fell into the rhythm of Matt Haig’s lovely and delightful THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY (Viking, September 2020) and I’m so glad I did. You know how certain books call out to you at ‘just the right time?’ This was one of those. Also, you’ve likely heard how a person can live multiple lives if s/he reads? Yep, that too. THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, like many of my book selections, focus on mental health: depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation. But it’s not all gloom and doom. …

Darling children’s book TOLD IN HIGHLY IMAGINATIVE ILLUSTRATIONS SUPPORTS THE VALUE OF OBSERVATION, SMALL THINGS, CREATIVITY, CULTURE, PLUS EXPAND YOUR READING EXPERIENCE WITH AN ACTITIVITY

By Leslie Lindsay  Delightful children’s book about a little mouse who comes to stay and leaves the family with a delightful array of treasures.  ~A LITTLE LITERACY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Kid Lit Monday When a foreign exchange student comes to live with a typical suburban family, he brings with him a boundless sense of curiosity — and a stream of unexpected questions (which his hosts are never quite sure how to answer). But when the moment comes to say good-bye, a beautiful surprise awaits, and a gift the family will never forget. Here, this darling story of a little mouse who comes to stay with a family, we are introduced to a new way of looking at the world. All of the ‘big’ things in life are underwhelming to Eric. He doesn’t care about them, but is more intrigued with the scraps–the tin foil, a gum wrapper, a bottle cap. The family finds this strange, unsettling, but decide it must be his way. Here is where the real magic happens. Could it be that the …

Jenny OfFILL’s WEATHER IS SEARINGLY BRIGHT, yet gloomy, and might resonate with the current climate, plus a writing prompt

By Leslie Lindsay  Strange, but insightful little book told in fragmented realities, almost like a memoir, but let’s call it experimental literary fiction. ~WEDNESDAY WRITING & READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER  From the beloved author of the nationwide best seller Dept. of Speculation—one of the New York Times Book Review‘s Ten Best Books of the Year—a “darkly funny and urgent” (NPR) tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisis WEATHER is my first Jenny Offill book, but it probably won’t be my last. In fact, I have her national bestseller DEPT. OF SPECULATION on my TBR pile. WEATHER (Knopf, February 2020) is such a book for our times. I mean, I read this and thought there was a precision to Offill’s words and perception.Obviously the book was written long before this ominous year of 2020, but the insights are searingly sharp and bright. “Brilliant… Offill’s writing is brisk and comic, and her book’s format underlines her gifts. “Weather” is her most soulful book…  [Her] humor is saving humor; it’s as if she’s splashing vinegar …

Kendra Atleework talks about personal loss & shared loss, homesickness, what it means to leave a place & return, loving her high desert home, and so much more in her memoir MIRACLE COUNTRY

By Leslie Lindsay  A rare and powerful memoir combing aspects of travel, history, environmental writing with autobiography and told in luminous prose. ~MEMOIR MONDAY| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ On the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas, a tiny town known as Swall Meadows resides. A bit farther south, a larger (but still small) town of Bishop lies cradled in the hands of Owens Valley California. This is the primary setting of MIRACLE COUNTRY (Algonquin Books, July 14) by debut author Kendra Atleework. I was initially drawn to MIRACLE COUNTRY because I have a ‘thing’ with land and geography, how it shapes one’s worldview, art, and essence.Having recently visited a high desert myself, I was intrigued and enthralled with this grittier, rustic side of life–from raging wildfires to blizzards and gale-force winds, this area witnesses it all. MIRACLE COUNTRY blends autobiography with environmental writing along with history. Here, we learn about the origins of L.A. (Owens Valley being just a few hours away), and how the Los Angeles Aqueduct was developed to usher water to the sprawling metropolis, rich with …

Bobi Conn talks about IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY about growing up in a Kentucky holler, southern storytelling, glorious details in the mundane, the palpable sense of an empty home, more

By Leslie Lindsay  ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ When Bobi Conn thinks back on her childhood in 1980s Appalachia she remembers feeling free—running with her younger brother through the remote Kentucky holler where her family lived, wading through creeks, knocking down wasp nests, and eating the sweet blackberries growing along the road to her granny’s. But she also remembers the darkness threatening to swallow the vast forest paradise around her—substance abuse, alcoholism, her alcoholic father who continuously terrorized his wife and children. Very quickly Conn learned that speaking up for herself would get her nowhere; Conn writes. “I hid myself deep so that on the surface, people would see quiet and good girl.” IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY: A Memoir (Little A: May 1, 2020) is about surviving in a community that, regardless of its beauty, it’s marginalized, desperate, and ignored by the rest of the country. Bobi manages to perform well academically and leaves the holler for college. At school she is able to learn, ask questions, and express her opinions. Motherhood, a …

A powerful and harrowing story of homeless youth, a dysfunctional family of origin, mental illness, & success of physician Sheryl Recinos in HINDSIGHT, plus a timely and topical reading list, activism, more

By Leslie Lindsay  A powerful and almost unbelievably true account of one woman’s dysfunctional family, her experiences in detention, foster care, the streets of Hollywood, and how she made it through. ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ HINDSIGHT (2018) by Sheryl Recinos, is one of those stories that will absolutely stay with you. Sheryl is a your typical eight-year old when her mother has a psychotic break. Along with her next-closest-in-age brother, she takes them to a trailer home to stay warm, leaving them with nothing but uncooked pasta and raisins. And then she vanishes, but returns. The family struggles. Eventually, the parents divorce, but the father receives custody. When Sheryl is eleven, he remarries a woman who wants nothing to do with kids, who struggles with her own mental health issues. To summarize this harrowing story in a succinct manner almost discredits the author’s pain and struggles. Here, we delve into a deeply dysfunctional family of origin, involving children sent away to foster care, the ones that remain, and the frank abuse that follows. HINDSIGHT …

When Lacy Crawford was sexually assaulted at an elite boarding school, she kept quiet for fear of being ‘robbed’ of even more. Notes on a Silencing helps to dispel the myth of the elite having all the power; #metoo & #BLM

By Leslie Lindsay  Compelling and haunting memoir of epic proportions of one young woman’s sexual assault, the lies, the cover-ups and fall-outs. ~MEMOIR MONDAY| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Recommended by:  PEOPLE MAGAZINE VANITY FAIR When the elite boarding school, St. Paul’s, in New Hampshire was recently under investigation following extensive reports of sexual misconduct/abuse on campus, Lacy Crawford thought her past there was behind her. Detectives asked for victims to come forward, and though it had been decades, Lacy threw her hat into the ring. NOTES ON SILENCING (Little, Brown: July 7 2020) is exactly that–a plea to have one’s tender, vulnerable voice heard. Lacy’s criminal case is reopened. She sees, for the first time in decades, evidence that corroborates her memories. That horrific experience involving two senior athletes and 15-year old Lacy in the boy’s dorm after-hours wasn’t just a figment of her imagination. It happened, it was cruel, and every attempt to cover-up or ‘sweep it under the rug’ was made. Lacy wasn’t a ‘legacy’ at St. Paul’s. Her parents were wealthy, but they hadn’t attended boarding …