A mother strengthens her faith over a lifetime of heartache in this spiritual account of recovery and acceptance.
When the debut author’s 28-year-old daughter, Nicole, went into early labor, Marshall was scared. She had a lifetime of experience as a mother to reflect on, having raised her son, Doug, and Nicole through turbulent years. In her own childhood, Marshall felt less than loved. As a young woman and teacher, she met Buddy and ignored the red flags of their relationship and married him. She soon was raising two children, one with unique challenges—Doug struggled at school, where he was sometimes abused and often misunderstood. While coping with Doug’s special needs, Marshall attended a seminary as a student. There she would find the community and faith that would lead her on her path. It’s this group that buoyed her when Nicole revealed a secret about Doug that rocked Marshall’s family to its core. Before long, teenage Doug was in jail; Marshall was asking for a divorce; and Nicole was facing her own struggles. Marshall relied on faith and her tools of recovery and was able to help Nicole when she became pregnant. Their mother-daughter relationship was tested—and strengthened—in the grief that was still to come their way. It takes a while for this account (which includes some photos) to set the stage, bouncing from childhood memory to young adulthood and back again in the first few chapters. The narrator truly finds her voice when sharing the home she found in the seminary: “I had not anticipated learning to walk a little taller in the world as a result.” The seriousness of Doug’s crime and the heartbreaking position that the narrator is put in are compelling in their brutal honesty and in the devastation that follows. It’s unique to read a memoir of addiction and trauma from the perspective of a parent in recovery, and there are a few moments when ideas of faith or healing threaten to overwhelm the story. But the epiphany that comes from the birth of Nicole’s baby—and the sorrow that follows—is earned by the book’s end.
An unflinching portrait of one family’s struggles and a mother’s boundaries that should appeal to memoir lovers.