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The Long Journey Home: A Memoir

2.8  ·  Rating Details ·  390 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
First introduced to the world in her sons’ now-classic memoirs—Augusten Burroughs’s Running with Scissors and John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye—Margaret Robison now tells her own haunting and lyrical story. A poet and teacher by profession, Robison describes her Southern Gothic childhood, her marriage to a handsome, brilliant man who became a split-personality alcoho ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Spiegel & Grau
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Lynda Wylde
Apr 23, 2011 Lynda Wylde rated it did not like it
Like many others, I was interested in Margaret Robison's book because I have read "Running with Scissors" by her son, Augusten Burroughs and "Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's" by her son John Elder Robison. I looked forward to "The Long Journey Home" because I hoped it might answer the questions that I had from reading about her from her sons' viewpoints. What could possibly have happened to her in her life to make her behave in the way that she did? I wanted to understand her side of ...more
May 06, 2011 Beth rated it it was ok
Margaret Robison’s memoir, "A Long Journey Home", was a journey to read. Much of her writing was disjointed and, at times, hard to follow. She rambled on, obsessing over minute details that lacked substance. For any novelist, there is a fine balance between giving too much detail and not giving enough. Robison erred on the side of too much information. Sometimes her writing was calm and clear, but most of the time it jumped erratically from thought to thought.

The thing that made this novel hard
Jan 27, 2011 Therese rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
UG. What a snake pit of a book. I know most readers are predisposed to hate Robison because of her son's books. So I tried to be cool while I read it. But wow. Meandering directionless through a childhood that isn't nearly as beautifully tragic as she wants it to be. Winding up drowning in a (relatively trauma-less, untragic) life of her own creation that is, surprise, as miserable as she is.

It's supposed to be Faulkner-esque and maybe it is but that doesn't mean it's not crap. It's supposed to
Jan 24, 2011 G rated it did not like it
Nothing pisses me off more than a mother who won't take any responsibility for her actions. Don't bother with this book--she barely mentions her famous children, until she does near the end, and then, she denies what they wrote about her in their own books.

Feb 01, 2011 Bekah rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting to read the "other side" of the story. When I read Running With Scissors, I was absolutely horrified by some of what Burroughs said happened in his life.

Robison's side of the story is equally disarming. Her memoir reads as a fairly emotionless recount of a pretty tragic and depressing life. I kept waiting for some emotion to seep into the story, but it was pretty flat.

There were times when I found myself trying to piece together a "truth" by adding he
Mary Frances
Sep 02, 2011 Mary Frances rated it liked it
I thought this was an interesting exercise in memory and self- justification. Reading this as a supplement to Running with Scissors and Look me in the Eye, memoirs by her two sons, let's you see the tangled and confusing way lives are experienced in the same dysfunctional family. This book lacks some honesty and depth, but it certainly made me think Augusten Burroughs (Margaret's son Chris) was either so damaged that he can't see his experiences objectively, or that he is still so angry at his p ...more
Maureen Flatley
If I could give this book negative stars I would.....complete abdication of responsibility while also attempting to leverage her childrens' well deserved literary attention.
Feb 16, 2011 Waven rated it really liked it
This review is based on an Advanced Reader's Edition. I was not familiar with the Robison family before meeting them in this book but it functions well as a stand-alone memoir. It begins with not Margaret but her parents and other close relatives, who would all heavily influence her life. Born into an odd amalgam of characters, heiress to unspoken family secrets, Margaret Robison spends her youth in Cairo, Georgia, wanting to be someone - and somewhere - else. The memoir follows Margaret as she ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Jackie rated it it was ok
After reading "Look Me In the Eye" by John Elder Robison and then "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs (and becoming a major fan of Burroughs and his other books), how could I NOT read "The Long Journey Home: A Memoir" by Margaret Robison? After reading this memoir, it is apparent why Burroughs stopped speaking with his mother after he wrote "Running with Scissors" and slammed her "turn" at telling their story. Ms. Robison is so obviously playing the victim in this, while conveniently i ...more
Hanje Richards
Apr 27, 2013 Hanje Richards rated it really liked it
Until last week I was not aware of this memoir written by the mother of Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison. I discovered it while searching for something else on the catalog of my public library.

I have read memoir by both Burroughs and Robison. Initially I thought it would be interesting to see how different (or similar) their accounts were from that of their mother. Instead I was almost immediately drawn in to the life of this woman, whose own life was fascinating, challenging and in ma
Feb 01, 2011 Jamie rated it liked it
This book is the occasionally hyper-dramatic but always eerily compelling account of how Robison managed her way through life, despite complications and contradictions, navigating anger, betrayal, loss, happiness and success. Some passages, standing alone, would receive 5 stars, and in those moments of clarity and insightful honesty, I could not stop reading. But a good number of passages seemed overblown and bordering on maudlin - those moments would rank as 2 stars. So the text evens out overa ...more
May 23, 2011 Caitlin rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Many of us have read Ms. Robison's sons' memoirs on growing up in their highly dysfunctional family. Long Journey Home is their mother's response. The book is a bit choppy and chaotic, but there are moments throughout that remind you that the author is a poet - landscape or moments vividly described in unexpected language.

My problem with all three books is personal and derives from my difficulty in answering some questions for myself: At what point does memoir about family become cathartic and i
McGuffy Morris
May 12, 2011 McGuffy Morris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Everyone has a story. Margaret Robison’s story took many years to tell. Her sons (Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison) told only bits and pieces of her story in telling their own stories. Margaret used poetry to share glimpses of her thoughts and feelings, but poetry is just that: glimpses. Here in her memoir, Margaret Robison is able to tell her own very emotional story.

Margaret’s childhood in the 1950s was a different world than the world today. However, even then it was a facade. It was
May 21, 2014 Maggie rated it really liked it
i am so glad to have read this book. i've read it as third in the series after her two sons' memoirs and i think it tied together the doubts i had gathered while reading running with scissors and the inspiration i experienced while reading look me in the eye.

her story was an honest telling that many women have experienced as being unappreciated even to the point of abuse yet still being willing to take part in life to the best of their ability. beautifully and sympathetically told, the constant
Lindsey Jones
3.5 stars
I have been a Burroughs fan for years, but I just recently discovered the memoirs written by his mother and brother. Running with Scissors is so crazy dysfunctional that one cannot help diving deeper to discover how "truth" may be altered by various perspectives. It was interesting to see the parallels in each story, but Margaret Robison and Augusten Burroughs were approaching each from opposite spectrums. I enjoyed reading her side of things; she provided a background and insight that
Jul 23, 2013 Kim rated it it was ok
I looked forward to reading this book, hoping to get a better understanding of the mother Augusten Burroughs described in his books, but was sorely disappointed. There were a few interesting segments of her life, but most of her stories were boring and irrelevant- like she was trying to explain her "crazy" but couldn't. "Running With Scissors" may be mostly fiction, according to Miss Robison, but it was an easier and more enjoyable read.
Jan 31, 2011 Lauren marked it as to-read
I have read a bunch of stuff by Augusten Burroughs and also have researched the story behind the book. I would totally love to hear Margaret's side of the story. I was always fascinated by Augusten's description of her and her melodramatic ways. Looks great!
Aug 30, 2011 Grace rated it really liked it
This is the book Augusten Burroughs' mother has been writing since before he even published Running with Scissors.Obviously, this book has a much larger audience than it would have had not Running with Scissors and other of Augusten's books been so popular.I read this curious to get his mother's side of the story.She is a very different sort of writer than her son, but has obviously been an influence on him.This book gives her version of the events that Augusten mentions in his books.She denies ...more
One of the most compelling and disturbing things about this memoir is Robison's ability to take the reader into the heart of her psychosis. Much of the book is not about being psychotic - there is everyday neglect, an unhappy childhood, a terribly destructive marriage, depression, the saving grace of art, and much about being a confused and chaotic mother - but it's in describing psychosis that Robison is most powerful. The passages describing her commitment to various mental health wards are ch ...more
Jul 03, 2016 Zana rated it did not like it
I loved "Running With Scissors" so I'm clearly Team Augusten and it was hard to be unbiased. Still, I gave it a try....and then during the long journey through her childhood I peeked to see what she had to say about him. (Whom she calls Chris which is just rude in my opinion. I suppose it's hard for a mother to call her son something other than what she named him but he's chosen his own name, that's who he is and she needs to respect that.) That quick peek has colored everything I feel about Rob ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Joan rated it liked it
I received this book as a First Reads Edition and was really excited to read it. Having finished the book I am feeling rather mixed. It was a bit disjointed as I have seen other reviewers mention. To be fair the author has had multiple psychotic breaks and a massive stroke and freely admits to gaps in her memory so a fully linear narrative is not a fair expectation and probably not even necessary. There are some very strong images and feelings evoked as the author discusses her battle with menta ...more
Feb 24, 2011 Ashleigh rated it it was ok
A couple of years ago I read Augusten Burroughs's books Running With Scissors, and Dry. Running With Scissors was a book that was both disturbing and haunting. At the conclusion of the memoir, I found myself wondering what kind of family Burroughs had come from and naturally I wanted to know what possessed the boy's mother to deposit him in the home of her clearly unstable psychiatrist. When I saw that Augusten's mother had written her own memoir, I was eager to get my hands on it. After reading ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I've read Running with Scissors by Margaret Robison's son, Augusten Burroughs. Running with Scissors is insanely sad, amazingly humorous and ultimately redeeming. The Long Journey Home is not.

This book cloys and begs for you to understand that she was preyed upon, that the awful things that she did to her children were simply not her fault. And perhaps it was not all her fault but Margaret Robison seeks to justify her actions at every turn. It gets old.

Margaret Robison continually blames anyone,
May 13, 2011 Laurel-Rain rated it liked it
Themes of memory, journeys, and the struggles through life's obstacles populate this memoir by a woman who has been spotlighted in memoirs by her sons.

Each of these three individuals—Margaret, her son John Elder, and her son Chris (Augusten Burroughs)—has a different and unique story, and the points on which they differ are not as important to their individual stories as the themes they share. Memories of pain, addiction, and mental illness.

Margaret Robison's "The Long Journey Home: A Memoir" ta
Sara Strand
Jul 14, 2012 Sara Strand rated it liked it
I can't really tell you much about this book without giving critical parts of her story away. I will tell you that this was a pretty fascinating book about a woman suffering from pretty awful mental health issues during a time in our society when it was even more frowned upon. In current times if you have a person who is depressed we treat them right away and we don't think twice. Back then, it was often ignored and viewed as shameful and sometimes it's a precursor to something far worse, which ...more
Jun 23, 2011 Allie rated it liked it
Like many I picked this book up because I happened to read 'Running with Scissors'...and everything else Augusten Burroughs has written now. The Long Journey Home started out quite slow with images from her childhood that didn't really explain too much. Her account of a lot of occurrences seems choppy, and the order of the book is really all over the place. Now this might have been done on purpose, to make it seem more 'poetic' I'm not sure. It could also be due to the fact she probably had to f ...more
Jun 11, 2011 Molly rated it liked it
How odd and troubling that the lives of Margaret Robison and her son Chris (Augusten Burroughs) are on display through these memoirs. Robison and Burroughs have conflicting narratives of who they are and what their lives were like when Chris was growing up. Chris now has several memoir-like books, speaking of the horrors of his childhood. Robison speaks of her horrific mental illness, her husband's alcoholism and abuse, and admits to the harm all of this caused her sons. And yet her view of hers ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Renee rated it it was ok

Similar to many other readers, I chose Margaret Robison's book because I have read, and loved "Running with Scissors" “A Wolf at the Table” and “Dry” by her son, Augusten Burroughs.

This book details the plethora of psychotic break downs, and abusive episodes the author suffered while attempting (and I use that word lightly) to mother two boys.
I don’t doubt the author’s struggle with mental illness, but this book felt extremely self-indulgent as it appears the author spent most of her waking mom
Karen M
Jan 30, 2011 Karen M rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2011 Lauri rated it liked it
I should state first that I am a huge fan of both of this author's well known sons, Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison. Both have shared stories of what can only be described as a massively dysfunctional and wildly unconventional upbringing. I wondered for years about the life experiences their parents had endured during their own formative years, and how that shaped the way they raised their own two very talented sons. Ms. Robison is a very talented writer, leaving no doubt in my mind th ...more
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