STRAY by Tanya Marquardt


Memoir of a Runaway
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A performer and playwright looks back on her dysfunctional adolescence and her decision to run away from home.

Living in a small town with her unsupportive mother, stepfather, siblings, and stepsiblings was just not working for Marquardt, so, at the age of 16, while her mother was out of the house, she packed her bags, called a cab, and left. This was the start of two tumultuous years during which she lived on the couches of friends, shared bedrooms with others, and lived part of the time with her father. She continued to attend school and to write whenever she could, a habit that projected her into the acting and writing world, while also smoking cigarettes obsessively and getting blackout drunk whenever possible. She entered the goth scene in Vancouver and hung out at bars and dance clubs, where she was exposed to the seedier side of life; S&M was common in the basement hangout she frequented with her group of loyal friends. Marquardt’s tale is gritty and sordid, full of vivid details that make palpable the experiences of a teenage girl searching for her place in the world. She spares little as she describes the physical and verbal abuse she endured and the fear, anger, and confusion caused by her family and others. “I loved to write, and Mom’s rejection of such a raw and exposed part of me was worse that if she’d slapped me,” writes the author, “and like a fuel to a fire, it caused a rage that burned inside my belly….[W]hen confronted with a need that contradicted hers, or with emotional turmoil that she couldn’t control, she shut off.” Marquardt also skillfully communicates her desires and dreams as she approached adulthood.

The highly expressive narrative is often brutal and raw, a combination of truth and penance, and it feels like a confession leading toward sanity and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5039-4916-4
Page count: 252pp
Publisher: Little A
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2018


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