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Dog Flowers: A Memoir

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  106 reviews
A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to confront her family's troubled history and retrace her mother's life—using both narrative and archive in this unforgettable and heart-wrenching memoir.

After Danielle Geller's mother dies of a withdrawal from alcohol during a period of homelessness, she is forced to return to Florida. Using her training as a librarian and
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by One World
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 stars

Danielle Geller unravels her family’s troubled lives in this heart-wrenching memoir. After her mother Laureen “Tweety” Lee dies from alcohol withdrawal, she takes her mother’s belongings “packed into eight suitcases” and begins a self-discovery journey. She weaves in her personal story from childhood as she tries to find out more about her mother’s past from Laureen’s departure from a Navajo reservation at age 19.

Danielle Geller shares her dark memories of her childhood with us, being
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I picked this memoir wanting to read something about the Navajo Nation. So, imagine my surprise when the first ⅓ of the book takes place in my home county of York, PA. In fact, only a small portion of the book takes place on the reservation, first when Dani returns for a memorial service for her mother and later for some short visits with her cousin, aunt and grandmother.
Dani Geller did not have any easy childhood or youth. The child of two alcoholics, she was passed between her father and gran
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
"You cannot wake a person who is pretending to be asleep." (Navajo Proverb)

Danielle Geller presents her heart-wrenching memoir revisiting life as she knew it growing up on a Navajo reservation. As the story unfolds, we will experience the deep imprint of her childhood and young adulthood leaving its jagged edges in those tender places. Geller recalls those moments of abuse, abandonment, hopelessness, and the gnawing desire for affirmation in her world painted with upheaval and constant insecurit
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 stars. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

“You’re an alcoholic,” grandma would tell me, even when I was very young. “You just haven’t had your first drink.”

Danielle Geller tells her personal story through this heart wrenching and touching memoir. She is trying to find a trace of meaning in her mother’s life of alcohol and men. She is also searching for a sense of self, of family, of belonging. Danielle returns to her deceased mother’s Navajo reservation to piece together her mothers broken life throu
"I learned very young that my mother was someone not to be trusted -- that she would break my heart if I let her."

Danielle Geller and her sister were raised primarily by her paternal grandmother. Both of her parents struggled with alcoholism and as a result she was placed with her father's family. So she heard all of these things about her mother and because she lived apart from her, she came to believe this side of the story. Then one day she gets the call that her mother is in the hospital dyi
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

The thing about reviewing and rating another person's memoir is that it is so personal and raw for anyone to put their story out there for all the world to read. So I do feel like a bit of a heel to rate it so low. However, I have to stay faithful to the way I review and although I read the entire memoir, I really wanted to give up around 30%.

Goodreads review published 12/01/21
Publication Dat
Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love when books are in conversation with each other because after I finished Dog Flowers I picked up "A Cup of Water under my Bed" by Daisy Hernandez and it seemed to answer so many questions I had about Danielle Geller's memoir. I adore writers that open themselves up and allow us into the deepest recesses of their lives, their vulnerabilities, the imprints of their lives that have shaped who they are. This narrative jumped from present to past all the while interspersed with journal entries ...more
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, arc
This memoir by Geller explores her upbringing and the emotions the death of her mother uncovers. She talks about getting to know many of her family members after the passing of her mother, and of her relationships with them.
The book tells many small stories that are often tragic, but Geller seems detached. The emotions these events should have evoked don’t come through. The timeline for the book is a bit jumbled; this is a non-linear story.
I give this book 2 stars. I simply didn’t feel involve
I read a review copy, and if what I read is what ends up being published, then I cannot recommend this book. As is, it needs serious editing and plenty of rewriting.

The writing came across as disjointed, jumping from time and place, as well as person to random person with little to no introduction or even explanation. As a reader, I got no real insight into Gellar's thoughts and feelings, past or present, and I certainly didn't get to go on a journey of discovery with her. It was so frustrating
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller is almost certainly not the Indigenous memoir most people will expect it to be. Geller, a Diné (Navajo) woman who grew up in Florida and Pennsylvania away from her homeland, documents with haunting starkness the frequent instability of her childhood, the death of her mother, and the costs addiction and violence take upon children. Needless to say there is a lot of pain within the pages of this memoir and there is little of the cultural tourism I suspect many people ...more
Heather Fineisen
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
The author tells the story of her mother who is homeless using her box belongings. The story includes her homeless father and substance abusing center Grief makes this relatable. The Navajo background of her mother is explored. A hard life is eloquently portrayed in these pages.

Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley
Dec 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Danielle Gellar’s memoir was a bit different from what I was expecting, but I found I was very much invested in how she moved on with her life after growing up in such a dysfunctional family.

It’s sad to think that such an unstable family situation is what some children know as normal and this was the case with Gellar’s family. Alcoholism and brief stints in jail become somewhat of a regular occurrence. Raised mainly by their paternal grandmother, Danielle and her sister manage to keep a connecti
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Danielle Geller uses an admirable spareness in tone, coupled with a marked absence of sentimentality, to portray her emergence into adulthood in Dog Flowers. Recounting the events of a childhood marked by constant upheaval as the child of two parents struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse, Geller's language never relies on overt signifiers to telegraph how readers should react; it's a minimalist delivery that underscores the power of simply being able to document her story. Geller also e ...more
Dawn Michelle
This is a tough book to read. Extremely. Especially if you have suffered trauma yourself. I thought this was more about the Indian experience when I was approached to read and review this, and I should have done more research before accepting that challenge. That said, I am not sorry that I read this. And here is why; in reading this, I've realized, that for all the the crap that my father did to me [and to our family as a whole and continues to do], he -
1. Never tried to kill my sister or mys
Jill Dobbe
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Dog Flowers, Geller, a Native American, has written about her tough upbringing in an alcoholic household where poverty, neglect, alcohol, homelessness and abuse were all too familiar. Her young life is difficult and she watches as the lives of her father, mother and sister fall into despair.

Geller goes to her mother's bedside as she lay in the hospital dying from alcohol withdrawal. After her passing, she reconnects with her mother and learns more about her life through the few belongings, le
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
via my blog:
𝐈 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐣𝐨𝐤𝐞.

Danielle Geller’s Navajo mother, Laureen “Tweety” Lee, spent the last six months of her life homeless in Florida, six months that mother and daughter didn’t speak to each other, and then Danielle was called to her mother’s bedside as she lay dying. How can she confront her emotions, when her mother no longer has breath to answer for the past? So much about her mother’s life is either fiction
Cassidy Morgan
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, have, net-galley
Unfortunately this one fell flat for me. I felt like it was a lot of narrative with a little substance. While the author's story is tragic and her life has been full of hardship, i didn't feel there was great resolution or anything that wrapped this up into a memoir format. Some parts were so drawn out with loads of detail and prose that I forgot what the original "point" was. ...more
Dick Whittington
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Native American memoir of Navajo girl/woman and her extended family. Wanted to stop about half way through but forced myself to finish. Depressing. Draggy. Repetitive. Don't really understand high ratings. But obviously not my kind of book. ...more
Jena Henry
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful, emotional and sad memoir that is surprisingly readable and will keep you riveted. Danielle Geller shares her life from childhood to young adulthood in a quiet, honest manner. Throughout her life she is both burdened and blessed by her family- her immediate family and her extended Navajo family.

When she imagines her life, she sees herself in the desert, walking and observing nature, but always alone. That is how this book is written- as if you are walking along silently by the author,
Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for approaching me and putting this memoir on my radar. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Dog Flowers is Danielle Geller's memoir. Geller tells her story openly and goes back and forth between the past and the present. The book starts when Danielle Geller’s mother dies of alcohol withdrawal during an attempt to get sober. In an attempt to retrace her mother's life in this memoir, Geller returns to the Navajo reservation where most of her
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Geller's loved ones have been stumbling through life with alcoholism since before she was born, and it's alcohol withdrawal that kills her mother, "Tweety" Lee. As she goes through her mother's belongings, Danielle is intrigued by what Tweety chose to hang onto, even through cycles of homelessness. As she explores her mother's past, she reflects on her own, recounting her years growing up-- bouncing custody between her grandmother and father, her mother's sporadic visits, and her sister's strugg ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A gripping memoir of a life lived surrounded by addiction. When Geller gets a call that her estranged mother is dying she goes to say goodbye and leaves with her personal belongings. She begins to piece together her mom’s life through journals and photographs. Finally tracking down her mother’s sister on the Navajo reservation, she goes and meets the family she knows little about.

A non-linear timeline switching between childhood, the days after her mother’s death and beyond Geller is able to int
Tin Minute
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dog Flowers is an interesting memoir that dives into the life of a young woman as she discovers herself. Danielle Geller speaks candidly about her experiences as a native growing up between two worlds. Her story takes us across America and through time, giving us glimpses into her life and aspirations. The multiple pictures and candid depictions pulled us in, making every time we picked this book back up to read, just like a visit with an old friend.
Hannah (Peevey) Way
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Geller’s memoir spans the scope of her grief growing up and living surrounded by her family of addicts. But, this book was so much more than that. It starts off with her indigenous mother’s untimely death at 49. Geller uses this event to begin her story as she deftly steps back and forth into her past and archives her mother’s suitcase of belongings. Her childhood and coming of age are told with compelling lyricism, I read this book in 24 hours and cannot recommend it enough.

TW: alcoho
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, first-reads
DOG FLOWERS is memoir as exorcism. Author Danielle Geller is a gifted writer and uses all manner of prose and storytelling to share with her readers the story of her life and the excavation of details related to her parents’ roles in it. Once her mother dies, she strives to understand what role her long absent mother has played in the wreckage that constitutes her fractured family’s existence. This is a dark tale; I’m not sure either writer or readers receive catharsis through its telling. I hop ...more
Madalina Negrea
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Dog flowers are the muddy paw prints dogs leave on a rainy day, the ones you want to get rid of, annoyed. But what if these dog flowers are the only remains of a life and of a person you know very little of? What if understanding these patterns might help you discover yourself and heal, maybe?
You can start with sorting, assessing and archiving the few possessions your drunk, homless, dead mother who abandoned you, left behind, or sort your own -unhappy- memories or try to reconnect with your mot
Hillary Copsey
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It's interesting to me, scrolling through the reviews of this book, how many of the 1 and 2-star reviews cite their disappointment that Geller didn't give them more details about her Native American culture/family. This is a failure of marketing and, in my view, an indictment of the publishing industry's insistence on pigeonholing BIPOC authors. Yes, Geller is Native American. Yes, some of this memoir deals with her reconnecting with her family members who live on a reservation. But that's a par ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for a chance to read and review this ARC. Book publishes on Jan 12, 2021.

Someone who enjoys reading about American Indian lore would like this book. This is Geller's story about her life and the life of her mother. Geller tries to retrace the steps that lead to her mothers death from alcoholism. Sometimes reliving a life, understanding our heritage, and coming face to face with traditions is very unsettling. This book tells of Geller's journ
April Perdomo
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I spent some time sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the narrative style of this memoir. The best description I can think of is that it is put together like a scrapbook of memories. It is not quite linear, but all of these memories are connected. I think it is important to understand the structure of this read beforehand or otherwise the narrative style might be frustrating. This is a history that ended up sticking with me once I got my head wrapped around it.

Danielle Geller was a
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
My words feel inadequate. I had never felt that kind of love, but I had never learned how to write about happiness.

This is a very powerful book that tackles important topics such as family and identity in a poignant way. It is a meditation on the strength to choose your own path while coming to terms with a complex heritage and fighting the temptation to get sucked into the ongoing destructive cycle that has already claimed so many loved ones.

Geller’s writing is very unique in that it feels so f
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