emi Bevacqua's Reviews > The Liars' Club

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
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Oct 31, 12

bookshelves: family-dysfunction, non-fiction, memoir
Read in October, 2012

I can totally see why this book has won so many awards and such acclaim for the author Mary Karr. Her memoir describes an East Texas childhood for herself, Mary Marleen, and her older sister Lecia (irritatingly pronounced "Lisa") that is filled with insanity, alcohol, misery, hilarity, and brilliance. Their father (Daddy) is part-American Indian, a military veteran, a hard worker at the local refinery, and a hard drinker. Their mother (Mother) is complicated, beautiful, frustrated, haunted, extravagant, unstable and alcoholic.

Mary Marleen is sexually assaulted twice before the age of 10, habitually driven around by drunk people (including herself), and at risk of inheriting genetic mental illness and yet, this memoir careens around disasters and very unexpectedly delivers an actual happy ending!

I didn't understand how Mary Marleen got taken to school to show off her reading skills at age 3 and then be described as "3 feet tall and barely literate" four or five years later, but that's hardly germane. This ending is highly satisfying, no loose ends to speak of. It isn't explained exactly why Mother so goes to pieces when her own mother dies, but nevertheless it's an epic episode as riveting the second and third time it's brought up as it is on page one. It is masterful how Karr reveals more action and background with each mention of the ordeal. I love this book, and each character in this family made me laugh out loud at some point.
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