Mother Noise

Scribner. May 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781982168759. $26.99. MEMOIR
Essayist House opens this moving debut with a moment (having to tell her nine-year-old son that she had been addicted to heroin) that demonstrates the powerful human need to tell stories—even and especially when those stories disrupt the narratives people create in order to keep others safe. From there, the memoir explores what it means to give voice and space to stories that shape (and often shame) us into being. Photographs and drawings interspersed throughout the book give readers glimpses into where and how House’s story was received by and integrated into her son’s own identity and understanding. House shines particularly when writing about her past and speculating on how her community would treat her, and her son, if they fully knew about her history of addiction. With care and sensitivity, she depicts herself at different points in her life: as a curious child, as a woman navigating rebab, and, ultimately, as a mother to a son looking for answers.
VERDICT A powerful, brilliant exploration of motherhood and its inextricable links to the other selves comprising a mother; those pieces that society doesn’t accept as part of the entrenched narrative about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.
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