What I’m Reading: Memorial Drive

I’ve been trying really hard to get out of my kick of reading so many WWII Holocaust novels.  I appreciate them and feel I learn a lot about life during those times even though the books are fiction.  I think I become a little numb when I read too many of the same genre so I picked up this book, a memoir called Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

I will admit, I grabbed the book because of the cover.  I picked it because it was a memoir.  I’ve read a few memoirs that weren’t interesting.  I guess I feel if the person thought their life was interesting enough to write, it must be interesting to read.  In fact, some of my favorite books are memoirs.

This memoir is wrapped in a lot of layers.  There is a bi-racial marriage in the mid 60’s and a biracial baby follows.  That baby is the author and if you listen to the audio version, she’s also the reader.  She does a great job.

The book also covers the hard topics of domestic abuse.

The book isn’t told in conventional form.  There isn’t a beginning, middle, and end to the story.  The author bounces from present to past…to the middle of the story and gives clues of what is to come.  At first, I had to take a deep breath a couple of times before I could follow but in the end, I loved the format.

Here is what Amazon had to say:
A chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy.

At age 19, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became. 

With penetrating insight and a searing voice that moves from the wrenching to the elegiac, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey explores this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother’s history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a “child of miscegenation” in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985. 

Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet’s attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.6 stars.  I think I would agree.  The book completely held my attention and made me want to listen all the way to the end.

You can find the book HERE on Amazon.

8 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: Memorial Drive”

  1. Thank you for the book review of what looks to be an interesting to read. I also love memoirs and biographies

  2. I love audio books and this sounds like a good one for my car trip next week. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Judith Fairchild

    I don’t know if I could read the book. It’s an experience that comes to close to home for me.
    I was with my oldest sister this past week. She told us about a book called the Code Girls. By Liza Mundy. WWII story about the ypu g women who deciphered the enemy codes during World War II. I’m getting it as it’s true history biography type book.

    1. Oh, Code Girls is a wonderful book and I’m convinced that my mother was one of them. She died at age 60 in 1979 so we never knew but my sister and I are convinced. She joined the Navy Waves in 1944 and talked about events that are named in Code Girls. She attended Hunter College and worked in Washington DC. A native of Wilmington De, she would commute on the train to DC. They recruited women from Business schools and she attended Golden Beacon College for women. They were sworn to secrecy and she carried it to her grave I guess. ITs a great book!

  4. Beverly Douglas

    No no no. You sucked me in with The Yellow Wife and I haven’t recovered from that yet. What a fabulous well written book that is! I’m sure this one will measure up similarly, but wow the emotion involved is intense.

  5. Growing up in Delaware in the 60’s I loved through the Civil Rights era. Yes, in lower Delaware we had white and colored drinking fountains and segregated schools. I, as a teen, was sort of oblivious to it all. And there weren’t that many black families in that neck of the woods for me to even know. I can read the holocaust books from survivors because I know they survived so its a good ending. I dont particularly want to revisit the 60’s. Or to read about abusive families. Thanks for the recommendation but not for me.

    I prefer more real historical novels. I recently read Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball. The Ball family had several plantation in South Carolina and kept meticulous records. The author was able to connect black families to their enslaved ancestors, many going back to Africa. Now that one I could wrap my head around and it was so true.

  6. Here is a WW 2 suggestion. Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair by Anne Bausum, inside the 1944 plot to kill Hitler and the ghost children of his revenge. This isn’t fiction, this is the story of the aftermath of the July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. This attempt was made famous in the movie Valkyrie, what isn’t widely known is what happened to the families of the conspirators. My aunt by marriage, Christa von Hofacker, was one of these children who became known as the ‘ghost children’.

  7. After this review, I ordered the book from audible (always happy to have suggestions with my credits building up) and listened to it on a long car ride Wednesday from Ohio to SC. You were right, the book is wonderful and the author/narrator was great. Highly recommended. Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top