Emily Udell's Reviews > Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love

Live Through This by Debra Gwartney
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Sep 28, 2009

it was ok
Read in September, 2009

I wanted to read this memoir since I heard the moving "This American Life" piece focusing on the author and her daughters. I think Gwartney admirably attempted to cop to her own failures as a mother with a straightforward portrayal of her thoughts and motivations, but she left me with a vague lack of sympathy for her plight (was it really any wonder her daughters rebelled so hardcore?). I also found the narrative needlessly choppy; the author was constantly interrupting events with flashbacks that were apparently chosen for their symbolic meaning. I found myself skimming some of these passages. In the end, I didn't feel like I really understood any of the characters very deeply (the two younger daughters were completely interchangeable) nor the ultimate meaning of these events in their lives. I was also annoyed at times by Gwartney's propensity to overwrite. All that said, I cheered on the family's efforts toward reconciliation and even shed a few tears at the end. But I think I would have rather read a memoir written by the daughters. Maybe it would have revealed a lot more.
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