Lara’s memoir isn’t so much a linear structure as it is individual vignettes. Short stories that carry you so fully into a moment, a memory, it is as if you are there, and yet you are powerless to help. All you can do is watch things unfold for Girl and Brother. But despite the pain, there are moments of magic, experiences that balance the dysfunction, just a little bit. Her father taking them on a boat adventure, with porpoises and a secret swimming hole, but then reciting dirty limericks about sex.
Lara’s ability to remember the details of her childhood – not just who was there, but what the room looked like, the feel of the fabric on the couch or the smell of the pond in summer – is truly astonishing. You can see her stepmother tipping into mania. It’s slow and scary and as you read, the sense of dread is foreboding.
While the chapters are riveting and heartbreaking, I think the true gems of this memoir are in the Notes From the Fourth Wall. They are so raw and true, pushing the reader even deeper into the psyche of Girl.
The best is how Lara sees her role as a mother, this girl who was never mothered the way she needed to be…or parented at all. “I let my boys wear dresses or camouflage pants or superhero costumes or whatever outfit matches the identity they want to try on that day. I let them visit all of their grandparents, but I don’t let them spend the night with any of them. They are my wolf pups, and I protect them.” Lara protects them in ways she was never protected herself. She has defied the odds on all fronts.
Lara has shared that both her mother and stepmother are uncomfortable with how their role in Lara’s upbringing might be portrayed. I suspect there is a lot of guilt and shame involved on their parts, however I hope they can see past some of the more painful memories and acknowledge that Girlish is also a letter of love and forgiveness to the two people who, despite their flaws and faults, helped Lara become the incredible person she is today.
You can enter for a chance to win a copy of Girlish by following this link to our Deb Ball Instagram page and following both The Deb Ball and Lara.
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