Schimelpfenig Library staff member Jelita recently shared her review of Natasha Trethewey’s affecting memoir, Memorial Drive.
From the opening pages of Memorial Drive, we already know its grim conclusion. Natasha Trethewey’s mother Gwendolyn has been murdered, shot dead outside her home on Memorial Drive in Atlanta. Trethewey begins her memoir with a vivid image of the chalk outline on the sidewalk. She shocks us into confronting the intense violence of her mother’s end before starting again, more gently, with the story of their lives together.
Raised in the South as the only child of a mixed-race marriage, Trethewey remembers her childhood as a series of hazy, dreamlike fragments mixed with sharp, sensory details. After her parents’ divorce, Trethewey is sent to live with her grandmother in Mississippi. By the time her mother returns, she has remarried and there is now another child in the family. But Gwen’s second husband is quickly revealed as troubled and violent. From this point on, as the story moves through the years, the underlying sense of dread builds. Trethewey, a two-time U.S. Poet Laureate, writes with an aching beauty, her lyrical prose intercut with excerpts from police transcripts. And though we know where we are headed, it’s impossible to look away.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
For more reading recommendations, check out our Plano Reads tag here on the blog.