Keely Hyslop's Reviews > Saving Myself: a Los Angeles childhood

Saving Myself by Jeanne Simonoff
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's review
Aug 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in August, 2011

How does a child make sense of the death of her mother when no one around her is willing to acknowledge that it occurred? This is the opening question posed by Jeanne Simonoff's powerful memoir. Beginning with the perspective of a 2 year old's whimsical, bewildered, fragmented consciousness and progressing chronologically over the course of a decade, Saving Myself is ultimately an existential mystery story. As a young Jeanne gradually learns more about her mother's death and her father's inability to verbally express his grief, we observe Jeanne's coming of age into a feisty young Jewish lesbian who is able to honor the memory of her mother, the lessons of her grandmothers, and flourish from the nourishing influence of her stepmother. The central theme of the second part of the memoir is keeping the Jewish faith in the face of antisemitism from the surrounding community and sexism within the community. The book pulls no punching in confronting issues of mixed faith friendships, Christian dogma motivated religious intolerance, and the difficult choices adult children must make when caring for their aging parents. Unflinchingly honest, this book wears its heart on its sleeve. I look forward to Simonoff's next work.

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