Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: In Her Wake

In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of her Mother's Suicide by Nancy Rappaport
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 293 (paperback)
Source: TLC Booktours and Publisher

From Goodreads:
In 1963, Nancy Rappaport’s mother committed suicide after a bitter divorce and custody battle. Nancy was four years old. As one of eleven children in a prominent Boston family, Nancy struggled to come to terms with the reasons why her mother took her own life. After years spent interviewing family and friends, Rappaport uncovers the story of a conflicted and troubled activist, socialite, and community leader. Drawing on court depositions, her mother’s unpublished novel, newspapers, and her own experiences, she highlights heartbreaking stories of a complicated life that played out in the public eye. Inspiring, honest, and engaging, Rappaport’s story sheds light on the agonizing nature of loss and healing, and reveals the permeable boundaries between therapists and the patients they treat.

My Review:

Nancy Rappaport was 4 years old when her mother committed suicide, supposedly over the ongoing custody battle over Nancy and her four other siblings.  The author describes her and her family's attempt at finding closure after the tragedy, while attempting to peace together and analyze the possible reasons for her mother's suicide.

The memoir is extremely well-written.  But I found it to be a bit jolting.  The author weaves in sources and helpful medical information as she tells her story.  For me it prevented story from being as smooth as it could be.  I walked away feeling that I learned a lot about suicides, statistics, and Nancy but I didn't feel like I really learned about Nancy's mother.  This isn't unreasonable by any means.  I just expected something a little different.  This is more about how Nancy overcame a difficult hardship of losing a mother to suicide.

I recommend this for people interested in the subject, those interested in the psychiatric field, and those interested in hearing how a person overcame such a tragedy.

Nancy Rappaport is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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