Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Childhood and identity

This week on Realgoodwords are two new memoirs from women who are, to some extent, both writing about identity. Laura M. Flynn grew up in San Fransisco with a mentally ill mother. Her story shows not only the onset of schizophrenia and how it affects a family, but it shows the ordinary-ness of it; the good moments as well as the bad. Her father eventually divorced her mother, but left the three girls with their mother, because as she told me, "he didn't know that she wouldn't get better". Laura M. Flynn's "Swallow the Earth" was a finalist for a MN Book Award. The Washington Post wrote:

Despite all, Flynn's childhood contained love. Her salvation came through her father's protectiveness, her closeness with her sisters, and the imaginative world the three girls created together.

While Laura M. Flynn is examining her childhood to more fully understand who she is as an adult. In Mei-Ling Hopgood's "Lucky Girl" she, as an adult, comes to meet and understand the parents who gave her up for adoption in Taiwan. Kirkus Review's writes:

Hopgood writes with humor and grace about her efforts to understand how biology, chance, choice and love intersect to delineate a life. A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

May is National Mental Health Awareness month and the Grand Rapids chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is bringing Laura Flynn to Grand Rapids to speak - she'll be at the MacRostie Art Center Tuesday May 19th at 6:30pm. She'll be in Brainerd the next day, signing her book at BookWorld. And in June she's part of the Brainerd Public Library's Brown Bag lunch series.

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