Grace's Reviews > The Long Journey Home: A Memoir

The Long Journey Home by Margaret Robison
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's review
Aug 31, 2011

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 some of the things Augusten mentions in his books ever happened or if they did happen according to her, she remembers them differently, and says he fictionalized his portrayl of her in his books, to make her seem like more of a crazy and incompetent mother.He stopped talking to her after Running with Scissors became popular, though there were times they hadn't gotten along before that.Yet, this book is her own story and she doesn't start until the very end of the book to talk about Augusten's books or start refuting things he has written.This book then, is not really her answer to Augusten's version of her, but it is her own version of her story.

I liked the part in the book about her childhood best, and also about her later life after she got the psychiatrist Dr.Turcotte, mentioned in Running with Scissors, out of her life.Sometimes the book flashes forward or backward confusingly though.It is interesting to read her side of the story, some of the bad she doesn't spend too much time dwelling on, but rather tries to see that there was some good even in Dr. Turcotte (at first), and in her marriage to Augusten's father.

While she is right to see that there was some good in these things, I reached the end of the book, wondering if even now, she realizes how much she was the victim of both Augusten's father, and Dr.Turcotte.It seems to me Augusten has clearer perspective on these things.His mother does seem to realize that she wasn't the best mother to Augusten during his teenage years, because she had her own problems, and she seems to understand his anger over his childhood and his estrangement from her.I agree she's right to be forgiving/ understanding there.She had problems beyond what her husband and Dr.Turcotte did to her, but it seems both those two in different ways really messed up her life.I believe that Augusten most likely did not intentionally fictionalize on purpose his portrayl of his mother on his books, but rather wrote the truth as he remembered it.

Whether that's the whole truth, who knows, and his way of seeing things may have been blinded by anger.So I think the truth lies somewhere in between Augusten's and his mother's separate truths, as it does in a lot of dysfunctional families.At least his mother has let go of anger towards him.She's obviously a different person now than she was when he was a teenager/ young adult, when she admits she wasn't herself, and anyone could understand why.It's too bad Augusten had such a bad childhood, but at least he rose out of it and did something with it, and as even his mother admits, she is glad that he has become a inspiration to others dealing with dysfunctional family problems.

I had a bad childhood too, and identify a lot with Augusten's books.It's hard to mend dysfunctional families, or even agree on exactly what happened in different family member's recollections.So while it's unfortunate that Augusten and his mother are still estranged, it's understandable.Both his mother and father came from mixed up families in different ways.That Augusten was able to beat the odds and become a success and rid himself of his demons while still quite young (unlike his mother), is really a miracle.So, if you want to understand the story behind Augusten Burrough's stories, read this book.It's great his mother survived all the things that happened to her and is more at peace in old age.

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