In this debut memoir, Legacy discusses her lifelong quest to deal with fear and anxiety.
Part of an Italian-American family of four children in Dallas, Texas, Legacy says she was always unsure of her role in the family. She describes her relationships with her siblings and their childhood talks and games, saying, “My head swirled from Cynthia’s challenge of my intellectual knowledge.” One of her first recollections of social anxiety stemmed from her fear of speaking in her first-grade class. Many of these anecdotes, along with others later in her story, may strike readers as a bit insignificant, particularly since these moments struggle to sustain interest or engage empathy. The author spends considerable time dealing with her uneasy relationship with her dismissive father, who slapped her hands after childhood transgressions. This, as well as embarrassing incidents related to her menstruation at the age of 11, convinced Legacy that “this having periods and being a woman stuff is hard.” Considering her parents’ divorce and her peripatetic upbringing, she says, “it was difficult to have pleasure in my life.” Eventually, Legacy began seeing a therapist. After her father’s death, she regretted never having had a comfortable relationship with him, but since she had always relied on her mother for warmth, the older woman’s death is the memoir’s most emotionally compellingly story. Legacy married happily and, after a few false starts, began graduate work and a satisfying career in clinical social work. Menopause set Legacy on a nearly frantic search for hormones and diets to halt her symptoms and the visible changes of aging, including “high-priced cosmetics that didn’t work.” Her search for tranquility seemed to end after she and her husband adopted Nada, a Chihuahua-dachshund mix—“Oh, my God, this is fun!” she says of the “effortless and joyful” delight the dog brings her. A photograph of Nada in Legacy’s arms concludes the book.
A sincerely told story, though readers may find it difficult to sympathize with the writer’s reactions to life’s sometimes less-than-ideal circumstances.