Dog Flowers

One World. Jan. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781984820396. $27. BIOG
Gellar (creative writing, Univ. of Victoria) vividly recounts her experience coming to terms with her mother’s life. After not speaking to her mother for six months, Gellar is called when her mother, nicknamed “Tweety,” is in a coma after withdrawing from alcohol. Tweety was an irregular presence throughout Gellar’s life, and she and her sister were primarily raised by her grandmother. After Tweety’s death, Geller receives her possessions and uses her training as an archivist to document and piece together her mother’s life. Gellar attends a memorial service held at the Navajo reservation where Tweety grew up; by meeting extended family and sorting through her possessions, Gellar begins to form a more complete picture of her mother. Weaving stories from her childhood as well as from the present, Gellar describes in rich detail a family life filled with patterns of neglect, abuse, and mental illness mixed with moments of joy and humor. With instability as a constant in her life, it’s uplifting to see how Gellar manages to find her own voice and is able to share her story with clarity and heart.
VERDICT An introspective reflection on the complexities of family relationships that will engage fans of memoirs.
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