In her debut memoir, Wilson portrays our culture’s intolerance of homosexuality through a mother-daughter story of dysfunction, loss and empowerment.
The author chronicles her childhood in the 1950s and ’60s, her coming of age in the ’70s and the reestablishment of her relationship with her mother as an adult. The first part of the narrative relates how Gloria, Wilson’s mother, attempted suicide at least three times before Wilson was 12. Gloria spent extensive time in mental hospitals and was subjected to heavy medication and shock therapy. Partly because of her mother’s lack of parenting, Wilson tried to make herself nearly invisible to please those around her. She fled to college at Grinnell in Iowa and then to San Francisco to find herself. There she became active in both the gay-rights and women’s-liberation movements and came out to her friends and family as a lesbian. As Gloria healed and found her voice, Wilson discovered that her mother was also a lesbian and that her depression was fueled by intolerance for her lifestyle choice. Eventually the author and her mother reconnected, and the final part of the book outlines her mother’s death from cancer and the resolution and boundary setting that occurred before she died. While the book takes place during a dynamic time for lesbians and society as a whole, Wilson offers very little reflection and synthesis. As a practicing psychotherapist, the author has the tools to dig deeper, but the story unfolds as a straightforward, chronological series of events.
A decent cultural study, but many readers may desire more analysis and wisdom.