And Then She Fell

Books on Tape. Oct. 2023. 10:09 hrs. ISBN 9780593786697. $85.50. F
Elliott (A Mind Spread Out on the Ground) explores motherhood, mental health, and cultural identity, as experienced by a young Mohawk mother plagued by nightmares and an increasingly disordered mind. Alice, a Mohawk woman and new mother to baby Dawn, seems to lead a charmed life in an affluent Toronto suburb with her supportive husband, Steve, a professor whose research centers on Mohawk culture. As Alice writes a modern retelling of her people’s creation story, she is troubled by societal pressure, self-doubt, and perplexing visions. Her anxiety and confusion, combined with her neighbors’ passive-aggressive racist behavior, wear her down until she finally reaches a breaking point. Elliott shows a deft touch as she depicts how Alice gradually goes from enduring microaggressions to experiencing grotesque, visceral hallucinations. Narrators Cheri Maracle (Mohawk Irish Canadian) and Jenna Clause (Cayuga Nation, Wolf Clan) are both members of the Six Nations of the Grand River, like Alice herself. Together, they convey Alice’s emotional pain and the story’s claustrophobic atmosphere through occasionally humorous yet raw narration.
VERDICT With a nod to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Elliott lays bare the weight of intergenerational trauma and cultural longing from an Indigenous woman’s perspective.
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