Harrison, a college student when her mother committed suicide in 2006, tries to make sense of the death.
Now in her mid-20s, first-time author Harrison devotes the first portion of her memoir to the 40 days between her mother’s disappearance and the discovery of her body. The remainder of the book consists of a chronicle of the author’s coping with the reality of the suicide, flashbacks to her childhood and the attempts to move forward. Harrison, who grew up in Massachusetts with two older brothers, was a child of divorce who tended to side with her mother Michele against the father who left, and who considered her mother a best friend. Michele Harrison sometimes acted emotionally, but seemed stable to Lindsay, and enjoyed her work as a special-education teacher. Shortly before her suicide, Michele signaled subtly that she might do so, but none of the children believed it would really happen. Despite the devastation, the author managed to finish her education at Brown University and attend Columbia School of the Arts. Along the way, though, she abused alcohol and pills, and even made a feeble gesture at suicide herself. Her father, an engineer who has remarried and started a second family, re-entered Lindsay's life in a constructive way after the suicide, creating a heartwarming daughter-father bond. Although the memoir is intensely personal, the sense of loss is universal. Harrison's relationships with her brothers are rendered with all the complexity that can be summoned when emotions trump deep conversation. As for the deceased, Michele seems vivid on the page, a mother who desperately loved and needed her children and cared about humanity, even as she spewed bile aimed at her departed husband.
A well-written account by a youthful author who is bouncing back from grief.