LITERATURE

We Are All Shipwrecks

Sourcebooks. Sept. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781492645207. $24.99. MEMOIR
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OrangeReviewStarThe theme that the past influences the present is apparent throughout this striking memoir. At first, the author believed that her mother and father died in a car accident when she was an infant. When she's older, she learns that her mother was murdered. As an adult, she discovers more about her father and the circumstances surrounding her mother's death. This book is divided into segments, with descriptions of Carlisle's childhood with her plucky, often volatile grandfather and his wife, Marilyn, constituting the largest portion. The family lived on a houseboat and operated an adult video store. Her grandfather is portrayed as a liar but also generous and caring. Carlisle's investigation into her mother's murder and the whereabouts of her father are by far the smallest sections. Overall, it is clear that the author's tragic and unusual upbringing has not left her broken, and that despite the chaos of her childhood, her early life was full of love. As she begins her own family, she has the opportunity to share the complete story with her daughter.
VERDICT Moving and complex, this is an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love. A worthwhile addition to any collection.

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