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Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  24 ratings  ·  21 reviews
While recovering from a near fatal illness, Nancy Pressly discovers a treasure trove of family material stored in her attic. Haunted by images of her grandparents and her parents in their youth, she sets out to create a family narrative before it is lost forever. It takes several more years before she summons the courage to reconstitute a path back to her own past, slowly ...more
Kindle Edition
Published May 5th 2020 by She Writes Press
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
'Unlocking' is a memoir not just about finding your family, but finding yourself as well. When Nancy Pressly was diagnosed with cancer in her late-60's, she decided to spend some time organizing her home and going through the old, untouched boxes in her attic. What she found there was not only the story of her family but a rich tapestry of love and life that took place over generations. Pressly decided to write her family's story in this memoir and I am so glad she did because reading this was a ...more
Elise Schiller
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely memoir that explores the impact of the author’s upbringing in a mid-20th century family with traditional values and the impact of this on the rest of her life. Led by her father, a successful businessman 14 years older than her mother, her family’s strong rejection of an impassioned high school relationship hurts her deeply and its impact takes many years for her to unravel. But unravel it she eventually does, and in addition to a happy marriage, she pursues and excels in a care ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unlocking is a well crafted memoir of author Nancy L. Presly. The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes her family history including her uncles, aunts and cousins, her childhood days and teenage years in addition to the relationship she shared with her parents, sibling and relatives.

In the second part, her college days, her life partner, how she met him, their marriage, career lives and sailing with health struggles of her partner, birth of a loving child , career crisis and
Aimee Dars
In the wake of a difficult surgery with a low success rate to treat pancreatic cancer, Nancy L. Pressly was catalyzed to write her own history when she uncovered a cornucopia of family photographs and memorabilia in her attic.

The result is 𝘜𝘯𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨, a candid memoir that begins by tracing Pressly’s family who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and Russia to avoid persecution against Jews. It then charts her development from the daughter of a demanding mother and possessive, jeal
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
A stunningly beautiful memoir about family and finding your place. Nancy Pressly was diagnosed with pancreatic-related cancer at the age of 66 and given a 50% chance of survival. As anyone who has survived, or who knows someone who has survived cancer knows, this can be a very transformative time in a person's life. A life-threatening diagnosis changes everything and makes you look at life completely differently. Nancy responded by getting an urge to organize her house and get her affairs in ord ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“They contained my mother’s and father’s histories, everything from bank deposit slips going back thirty years to passports and report cards and hundreds of old photographs, and what seemed like every letter ever written by my parents or sent to them by my brother and me. It had been so long since I’d even thought about what was inside.”
Much like Lucy Pevensie, entering into the wardrobe in 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' one day Nancy Pressly went up into her attic and entered a different world. A
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Moving, emotional, inspiring and gripping—all words I would use to describe 'Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art' by Nancy Pressly.

If you know me, you know I absolutely love a good memoir. Truth is always stranger than fiction, and the inner struggles and triumphs of people's lives are always so fascinating to me. I love to read these types of books because it makes me feel like I am experiencing the highs and lows of their lives along with them and it is also a great opportunity to have a lit
Emma Bernard
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love any book involving family dynamics and family history, and this one made me think so much about my own parents and family lineage. ⁣

Nancy Pressly is diagnosed with pancreatic related cancer, and has an equal chance of living as she has dying. As she sorts through old photos, she reflects on her life and her family, starting with her grandparents who emigrated from Eastern Europe due to anti-Semitism. In this memoir she narrates her childhood and teen years, and her transition to motherho
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this memoir! A near fatal illness brings Nancy back in time as she discovers old family photos and letters, long since forgotten in her attic. These treasures helped her remember her early years and reflect on a life well lived. She describes her family fleeing Eastern Europe in the early 1900s and settling in New York with other families of Jewish descent.
The author talks in depth about her career as an art historian, curator, and administrator. How much she found joy in her wo
Sep 13, 2020 rated it liked it
During her cancer recovery, Nancy Pressly found a trove of family photos and documents in her attic, prompting her to put together a family history, explore the childhood she thought she had forgotten, and reflect on her life as a whole.

I love the idea of creating a comprehensive family history filled with facts and memories. I think a lot of us kind of forget that our parents and grandparents were young at one point, with their own lives before we came along. It's so important to keep these mem
Cindy Roesel
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it

Reading UNLOCKED: A MEMOIR OF FAMILY and ART (SheWritesPress) was quite enjoyable. I haven't read any memoirs lately, just fiction, so it was pleasant to change genres. Author, Nancy Pressly is diagnosed with pancreatic-related cancer and it's a seminal moment for her to look back at her life, but also ahead.

It's a very personal memoir that examines her determination to fully understand her family's history. Once diagnosed she goes up to the family attic and there she discovers a treasure full o
Gud Reader
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This taut, powerful and deeply original memoir revolves around the life of Nancy Pressly who was diagnosed with cancer in her late 60s. It is during these tough times that she discovers a treasure trove of family material stored in her attic. As she sorts through the old pictures, cards and letters she is fueled to learn more about her family which later sparks an interest in her to put down the narrative before it disappears forever.
The narrative undulates shifting between her family fleeing fr
TheReadingCornerforAll Lopez
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Our lives are a mixed portrait with vibrant colors and blurry moments steeping into the canvas we enter the world with. It is only by taking a step back and truly looking at the emotions that followed our lives, reflecting on family, and considering the chronicles of our experiences that we are able to unlock a form of understanding about our life’s art.

The process of reading Nancy L. Pressly’s work was a very cathartic experience. In the spirit of authors such as Mitch Albom, Pressly is able to
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author of this book has done what I’ve often thought about doing, which is to research past generations of my family.

Nancy Pressly spent hours and hours researching all the information she could find about her family, all while going through serious health and personal issues. Her love of her family definitely comes through in this book.

I found all aspects (the research & what she found, her personal and professional life) of this book extremely interesting. I loved the photos she added to t
Just another reader
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it

This is a lovely heart-warming account of Pressly's lineage, panning several decades (almost a century). Ridden with the news that she has cancer, Pressly decides to seek some solace in getting her home cleaned, and eyes her untouched attic boxes as her prime target. What starts out as a mundane task of cleaning of years of a musty and dusty room, ends up being a fabulous revelation to Pressly herself. Discovering the journey of her ancestors who migrated to America from Europe, Pressly finds he
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Unlocking by Nancy L. Pressly is an introspective memoir. The author is able to piece together long forgotten memories after visiting her attic in search of family photos, letters, etc.

It is a strange feeling when we think of the things we have forgotten and the things we have remembered. How our minds work to protect us by shedding memories and how it chooses what remains. Of course, it also makes some very inexplicable choices as well. There are some things I wish I could forget, some painful
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought Nancy L Pressly’s Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art to be a pretty good read. I found it to be inspiration of finding one self, where you came from, and what is important in life. This was definitely my kind of read. I am always looking for information about my own identity and family history. I loved the treasures the author discovered. What a beautiful find. I was fascinated from start to finish.

I am giving Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art five plus stars. I recommend this
Janilyn Kocher
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unlocking is a sensitive introspective memoir. Nancy covers the gamut of her life from her grandparents to tomjer grandchildren. She has led a full, fascinating life, fraught with pain and major health issues, but complete with family and work. I enjoyed her early family history the most. I also liked reading about her life in NYC during the sixties. She epitomizes the modern woman in all aspects. Thanks to NetGalley and She Writes Press for the ARC.
Sara Strand
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though a few slow spots, this was a pretty good book. I love the photos included throughout the book, it really helped break up what could have been a slow read. I love the story of the family, but also the story of the author's marriage, just a really fascinating, and lovely book. If you're a mom you'll really connect with this. ...more
Romalyn Tilghman
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most introspective, Nancy Pressly clearly articulates the complexities women faced, and continued to face, in juggling family, meaningful work, and self-care and reflection. She shares her joy of art and home, her battles with health (both her own and those of her family). As the Kirkus Review says, "it's a wrenchingly honest account that defy combines a marriage story and an art tour." ...more
Tabitha (Tabi Thoughts)
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unlocking by Nancy L. Pressly is a beautiful memoir highlighting the importance of art, family, and memories.

After discovering family photographs and letters in her attic, Nancy ties together pieces of her personal life and family history. As she retells her life journey, we learn about her upbringing in the 1960s, her personal successes, and her battle and recovery from cancer. While I can only imagine how difficult her journey with cancer was, Nancy’s perseverance and outlook on life are both
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Jun 26, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  (Review from the author)
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Pressly grew up Nanuet, New York, a small rural town, twenty-five miles north of New York City. After graduating from Goucher College, she lived in Manhattan for nine years, where she was immersed in the art scene and the publishing world, earned a master’s degree in art history from Columbia University and began her art museum career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In New York she met her husb ...more

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