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Because: A Lyric Memoir
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Because: A Lyric Memoir

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Because is a narrative long poem that explores, with vividness and precision, the shifting and uncertain landscapes of childhood memory. Propelled by the powerful litany of the word “because,” Mensch’s poem builds a heartbreaking tale that is at once generous, empathetic, and unsparing. Unfolding through a series of precise, jewel-like scenes, Because bears witness to the ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  96 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is haunting and has a dark memories of the writer. Although this was a very sad and heavy story (child abuse), I didn't like the lyric narrative of it. It just wasn't for me and I would rather have it in a traditional style. Still, I could not put it down because I wanted to know the end. Heartbreaking until the end!

Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simultaneously blunt and lyric. You want to rescue this child but eventually learn that this is what the adult speaker of the book is doing.
Ernest Hilbert
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A gripping book-length psychological poem, Joshua Mensch's Because is wholly persuasive and powerful in more ways than one. The reader feels the sense of protection but also claustrophobia and entrapment in the endless series of chambers or enclosures described by Mensch in these spirited lines. The poem’s pacing is handled superbly. I found I simply couldn’t look away from the scenes depicted because they were so precise and commanding. In these pages, traumatic emotional drama is harnessed to ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Because it is bold and honest.
Because it breaks your heart as you continue to turn the pages.
For more, check out my Bookstagram.

Because upon re-reading it is still painful.
Because now you appreciate the delicacy with which sentences are constructed, beyond the meaning of the words.
There’s no disputing Mensch’s bravery in tackling the five-year relationship he had with Don, a male family friend, starting when he was 10 years old. This was no simple case of pedophilia; it was consensual. Mensch was proud of being Don’s favorite camper and homeschool student, and even if he was sometimes merely tolerant of rather than enthusiastic about the sexual stuff, he did still go along with it, and on the multiple occasions when he had the chance to rat Don out he chose to protect him ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Because is a clear-eyed, humane look back at the horror of abuse — a gripping page-turner written in a spare hand. I was hooked from the first page and read it in one sitting. Highly recommended.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
BECAUSE is both heartbreaking and incandescent. I can't tell you how deeply this book moved me--Mensch is a powerful new voice in poetry. You must read him.
Stephan Delbos
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, heartbreaking book. An unflinching portrayal of traumatic events that is ultimately affirming. A sharp rendering of the complex emotions and power exchanges of a relationship with a mentor/monster who both helped and harmed. By telling this story, writing this book, the narrator liberates himself from Don's grasp and at the same time proves himself. Because is a cathartic triumph, an important contribution to current conversations, and a compelling declaration of faith for t ...more
Greg O'Dea
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Powerful, insistent, even obsessive in its pursuit, not of the reasons why this abuse happened (it happened "because"), but of the spaces and images surrounding the abuse, as engines of memory ("because the room was..."). The author remembers these harrowing events "because" of the precision of the images, and through them he perhaps finds release and freedom. Beautifully done. ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. These are the experiences that authors should have the courage to write and bring awareness to. The subject of abuse is a tough one to swallow for many, but the more it is talked about, I would hope that more people will be able to recognize it and fight against it. So much thanks and respect to Joshua Mensch for writing this beautiful piece of poetry. ...more
Lea Dokter
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adore Because. Its heavy themes, conveyed in wonderfully original poetic language, stabbed right through me. I read this in one go on a sleepless night, with no expectations, and felt beautifully disoriented after. Definitely one of my favourite poetry books!
Francesca Bell
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seldom are we given the chance to view so clearly, through the eyes of a victim, the everyday horrors of child sexual abuse. Mensch chronicles, in precise, casual detail, the years-long, predatory relationship of a teacher and his student. Readers witness the devastation of the sexual acts themselves but also yearning's seductive, venomous dance as the adult lures the boy with promises of affection and belonging, with the untamed wilderness, with the glittering prize of knowledge itself. I've ne ...more
Wow. This is a beautiful book about a terrible subject. Joshua Mensch, using a lengthy lyric essay, explores his childhood history of sexual abuse at the hands of a man named Don. The cavalcade of emotions that come from a trusted friend convincing Mensch that what's happening is not abuse, but a form of love or care, is thoroughly catalogued in poignant detail, using a series of places and dates to frame the story. This was a tough read at times, as Mensch does not shy away from graphic details ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had this book for a while first. I hesitated; it's been a haunting year. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. It is brutal and honest and devastating and beautiful and profound. It needed to be read. ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A haunting, poetic, unsettling memoir of years the author spent under the influence of his father's best friend, Don. Mensch describes, with as much chronology as he can, moments of his life where he felt any number of conflicting emotions regarding this relationship. Simultaneously unfettered and kept, curious and aberrant, loved and taken advantage of, this is not a memoir that deals in absolutes. The discomfort of being in the grey area is exactly what makes this memoir so compelling. ...more
A Karuna
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy read, but I loved this book, and have read it twice—it is truly unique.
Jessica Mensch
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truly incredible
Jennie Chantal
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved everything about this book.
Lauren Camp
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utterly haunting.
Kristina Romero
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This swept me right up and left me feeling a bit disoriented and heartbroken. I just couldn’t put this book down. My first thought after finishing was how much bravery this man had to be this blunt, casual and open about his experience and my second thought was that I hope writing this healed him in some way.
Kathy Webb
A heartbreaking account of a tragedy - something we need to be aware of and try to prevent -
I won this copy in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you to all involved.
Madeleine Hernandez-g
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-e-books
That was very hard to read, since the author is talking about the sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father's friend. It made me feel so many things and the writing was beautiful regardless of the hard subject matter. ...more
Robert Eversz
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
BECAUSE made me tremble when I first started reading it, and after I finished I carried the narrative around in my clenched gut for days. It's rare to see a memoir so unflinching, so devoid of self-pity while it explores a childhood trauma, and this makes it even more emotionally powerful a document. ...more
Because was a haunting, dark memoir written beautifully. I picked it up after it won a book award and I had read a snippet that I loved, so I ordered it from the library. I immediately got sucked into the twisted story and felt so bad for the boy. Don was horrifying and it portrayed the sadness and disgust of molestation so well. It was poetry, yet it had such an intriguing and devastating plot. I loved it. It was short and not sweet.


-Beautiful, lyrical writing that flowed so well. It was e
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
First and foremost, I have to say how incredibly brave Joshua Mensch is for telling his story. As a victim of childhood abuse myself, I couldn't fathom telling my story in such detail for the world to read. Through this book, he displays his strength to overcome the demons he had to face as a child. This book is beautifully written and provides insight into the mind of victims of childhood sexual abuse. It is an example of hope for those of us who have not gathered the courage and strength to te ...more
Paul Lemcke
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't know how I can say I liked this book at all. It's the detailed telling of child sexual abuse over a 5 year period by an adult male friend of the family. I can say I was horrified, sickened, disturbed and bothered, which means I was emotionally engaged in Joshua's story. The lyric style was apparently the way Joshua found that would help him tell his story, so I say whatever style you choose, it's going to be a brutal story. May his abuser, Don, and others like him, rot in hell. ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, but not sweet.

This is the first lyric memoir i have read. I personally don't care for the style. The substance was like a train wreck. It's terrible, but you cant look away. For my preference i wish this had been written in a more traditional style, and more in depth. I find myself fascinated and repulsed all at the same time. Giveaway win
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written!
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A friend gave me this. He glanced at the language and thought I’d love it. Correct. It is also intense and horrific and beautiful.
rated it really liked it
Jun 16, 2018
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Joshua Mensch is a poet, visual artist and a founding editor of the literary journal B O D Y. He grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and lives in Prague, Czech Republic. His first book, BECAUSE (W. W. Norton, 2018) was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award in poetry.

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