Sinkhole: A Legacy of a Suicide

Milkweed. Sept. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781571311764. $25. MEMOIR
Patterson (The Truant Lover) marvels at the pervasiveness of some of her family members’, on both her paternal and maternal sides, dying by suicide. It fractures the perception that suicide is an isolated incident. The loss of her family’s patriarchs dying in this way became a source of sorrow and shame for the author, who attempts to make sense of documented facts from police reports, obituaries, and firsthand accounts, along with the vast unknowns of her father’s and grandfather’s final days. Tying together environmental, political, and historical facts in her family tree, the author imagines what it means to take one’s life and shares what it’s like to be the one left behind. As fascinating as it is upsetting, Patterson has intersected the past and future, imagining the silent crisis happening among the men in her family, as well as the persistent fear of her own potential demise through self-harm, all while considering genetics, societal pressures, and prescribed antidepressants. The end result is an elegantly tragic work of research, history, and creative nonfiction that seeks answers, closure, and ultimate peace.
VERDICT Recommend to readers navigating grief, loss, and the aftermath of suicide.
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