A girl learns how much grit and grace it takes to make it out of poverty in this debut memoir.
Singer/songwriter Moore opens her recollection of her childhood on a portentous note: her grandmother Dot revealed that spirits were after the young girl. This detail would prove prophetic for Moore, whose memoir is full of accounts of visitations from her late grandmother. But these spirits were nothing, it seemed, compared to the harm that living people inflicted on her. She and her sister were raised by her grandmother and her hot-tempered, teenage mother, and the author writes that she had to provide her mother with just the right amount of eye contact to avoid beatings. In one incident, she says, her mother burned her sister’s leg with an iron and lied about it; in another, she writes that her mother’s one-time boyfriend molested her and her sister. The family moved from city to city, relative to relative, as they tried to survive. The abuse persisted, Moore says; once, her mother broke a plaque depicting Jesus’ Crucifixion over the head of her then-stepfather. After the author became pregnant from a rape, she had an abortion and ran away from home and eked out a living with her sister and their friends, who stole to survive. After several returns home and failed, injurious relationships, she found a partner who proved reliable—and brave enough to stand up to her mother. Overall, the memoir is unrelenting in its intensity; it often seems as if the domestic and sexual violence will never end. But even more remarkable is Moore’s approach to describing her traumas, which is laudably unsentimental, unflinchingly realistic, and even occasionally witty. Despite the author’s apparent lack of interest in sugarcoating her experiences, she ends her memoir, convincingly, on a note of optimism. Perhaps it’s the very same optimism that helped her live through unfathomable cruelty so that she could go on to become a successful musician.
A sympathetic, instructive story of resilience.