This is a very good book and equal parts ascent and descent. It is an interesting story about a sad family; it is an interesting self-diagnosis and meditation on what we look for in our family; it is a poem about addiction and loss. (It only drags in one portion, towards the end, as many memoirs tend to do, which is when the tense turns from past to present: Molly walks us through her retracing of her father's steps as she is writing the book, which as often does has the effect of intimating a personal revelation that cannot turn universal.)

But the thing overshadowing the rest of the narrative, to me, is knowledge of how Molly's life ends the way it does, with suicide. It is hard not to think about her death when she discusses her mother's suicide attempts, or her grappling with disassociation and trauma.

I sat for a while after finishing this book, in the morning, with my partner asleep on my chest, feeling a little lost. I searched for more about Molly — her cooking blog, her teaching blog. And then I settled on the poem that brought me to her memoir in the first place:

In the Morning, Before Anything Bad Happens

The sky is open all the way.

Workers upright on the line like spokes.

I know there is a river somewhere, lit, fragrant, golden mist, all that,

whose irrepressible birds can’t believe their luck this morning and every morning.

I let them riot in my mind a few minutes more before the news comes.

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© 2023 Justin Duke • I hope you're wearing your favorite sweater.