BIOGRAPHY

The Erratics

Knopf. Aug. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780525658610. $25.95. MEMOIR
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In this memoir, translator and editor Laveau-Harvie seamlessly interweaves past and present, speculation and reality, that is as bitter as the Canadian wilderness that she comes home to when she and her sister have to confront their manipulative mother, hospitalized after breaking a hip, and their father, a starving victim of the mother’s abuse. Unflinching in its portrayal of family dynamics, yet by turns satiric, humorous, and loving, this brilliant examination of mental illness explores the effects on families and the complex ways in which people lose themselves in one another’s versions of reality until they discover ways of communicating and connecting that sever some of the bonds of childhood while also renegotiating relationships. Laveau-Harvie is a gifted writer, and she tells how she and her sister both experience the complicated process of caregiving from a distance. In between, she shares recollections of her childhood, and of traveling between her native Canada and adopted home of Australia. Through it all, Laveau-Harvie writes with care and tenderness.
VERDICT Similar to Maya Shanbhag Lang’s What We Carry, this account is a touching portrayal of grief, family, and what is best left unspoken.

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