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This was my seventeenth book I chose via the Reedsy Discovery program, for which I am the single approved reviewer for this new book. Although memoirs are not my usual genre, the synopsis and the author’s note at the beginning drew me in. This review also appears on Reedsy.


The Premise
Born to a sixteen-year-old free-spirited mother in the late 1960s, Stacey’s upbringing was unique. This memoir chronicles her life from birth to present, touching on all the relationships that influenced her — her grandparents, her friends, her partner, her father, and most importantly its central focus: her mother. Part witty comedy, part painful drama, this true recount of their relationship is similar to the dynamic of the television show “Gilmore Girls”. As her mother Bree often said: “I didn’t raise Stacey. Stacey raised me.”

Bouncing between the various homes among her family members, all of whom welcomed her despite her shifting religious, sexual and other identities, Stacey’s guiding light is her mother. When Bree falls ill, she steps into the role of caregiver until her final days. With a hefty dose of heart and a sprinkle of magical realism, this memoir celebrates her mother’s life and honours her memory.

The Pros
This was a heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir of a mother/daughter love that knows no limits.

Though my reading tastes are broad and inclusive, when I take on the honour and responsibility of reviewing, I usually keep a wide berth away from memoirs — it’s hard to cast a critical eye upon something so factual and personal. However, this one had me at “Gilmore Girls” — my and my mom’s absolute favourite show ever, and I couldn’t resist.

Beautiful and moving from beginning to end, this chronicle of Stacey’s and Bree’s life is a glorious depiction of an unusual mother-daughter role-reversal dynamic.

Charming, intimate, and relatable, we fall in love with “Mommie Bree” from the first moment when she refused to get married with her braces on. As she stumbles through her own struggles with self-image, relationships, depression, and illness, she still shields her daughter Stacey from the depths of it, sacrificing her own happiness to ensure that her daughter gets the most out of life. Not wanting to be a burden, Bree reaches out for support only when she absolutely must, much to Stacey’s chagrin as she wants to be able to do so much more for the woman who brought her to life in more ways than one.

The journey from childhood to adulthood is masterful, heartfelt, and so gripping that there were points when it was impossible to take a breather from this book. The authenticity, the humour, the kindness, the compassion and the sheer love of coming-to-age under the guiding light of her mother’s influence are brilliantly woven through the tapestry of these pages, culminating in a photo album and afterword from Bree — through the afterlife — that would touch even the coldest of hearts.

I loved that the author was reflective as she recounts the story, understanding things as an adult that would have eluded her as a child, and giving us that additional insight with her brand of brazen honesty.

 

There was also an element of magical realism in the aspects of the story that explored religious faith and otherworldly beliefs. I personally loved it, but some readers may have to suspend disbelief and accept that these are integral to Stacey’s and Bree’s story. While some may not abide by these serendipitous unexplainable coincidences, this is the author’s truth and must be respected — no, revered.

Conclusion
This memoir is one that will stay with me for awhile. Though crushingly painful at times, still, even in its darkest hour, it reaches deep to find the uplifting levity of laughter or the pacifying sigh of peace. There is so much love here, so much grief, so much heart. If you are a “Gilmore Girls” fan, you will indeed relish every moment of this book, but I would also recommend it to anyone who can enjoy the excellence of writing talent, and stomach reading something real that will bring them to tears. I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster of this book, and I am grateful to the author for penning her thoughts to words in order to honour her mother in the best way she can: by sharing her with others.