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Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: The Long Journey Home by Margaret Robison

The Long Journey Home: A MemoirPublisher: Spiegel & Grau
ISBN: 140006869X
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Memoir
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book:Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound

 Summary from publisher:
First introduced to the world in her sons’ now-classic memoirs—Augusten Burroughs’s Running with Scissors and John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye—Margaret Robison now tells her own haunting and lyrical story. A poet and teacher by profession, Robison describes her Southern Gothic childhood, her marriage to a handsome, brilliant man who became a split-personality alcoholic and abusive husband, the challenges she faced raising two children while having psychotic breakdowns of her own, and her struggle to regain her sanity.

Robison grew up in southern Georgia, where the fa├žade of 1950s propriety masked all sorts of demons, including alcoholism, misogyny, repressed homosexuality, and suicide. She met her husband, John Robison, in college, and together they moved up north, where John embarked upon a successful academic career and Margaret brought up the children and worked on her art and poetry. Yet her husband’s alcoholism and her collapse into psychosis, and the eventual disintegration of their marriage, took a tremendous toll on their family: Her older son, John Elder, moved out of the house when he was a teenager, and her younger son, Chris (who later renamed himself Augusten), never completed high school. When Margaret met Dr. Rodolph Turcotte, the therapist who was treating her husband, she felt understood for the first time and quickly fell under his idiosyncratic and, eventually, harmful influence.

Robison writes movingly and honestly about her mental illness, her shortcomings as a parent, her difficult marriage, her traumatic relationship with Dr. Turcotte, and her two now-famous children, Augusten Burroughs and John Elder Robison, who have each written bestselling memoirs about their family. She also writes inspiringly about her hard-earned journey to sanity and clarity. An astonishing and enduring story, The Long Journey Home is a remarkable and ultimately uplifting account of a complicated, afflicted twentieth-century family.
My Review:  
Memoirs are some of my favorite books. But it’s a very love it or hate it type of thing with me. I wasn’t sure what to think of this one because I’ve read and loved Running With Scissors (Margaret Robison is Augusten Burroughs’s mother). I’ve also heard of but not read another memoir based on this family by Robison’s other son, John Elder Robison, called Look Me in the Eye.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. I didn’t want my previous knowledge to interfere with my reading of this book. I don’t think it did because I felt just as much sympathy for Margaret as I did for her son. Maybe even a bit more. She was dealing with an alcoholic husband, a creepy and controlling therapist, and her own mental illness. That’s quite a lot to deal with. I admire her ability to write about her experiences honestly and candidly.
I really liked The Long Journey Home quite a bit. The writing was excellent and I love how detailed it was. I did have moments of confusion where Robinson started talking about one thing and then veered off into a tangent and I lost in the narration. I was also worried that this would be little more than a rebuttable of Running With Scissors but it wasn’t. I don’t think I would have been nearly as interested in this book if it had been a counterpoint to Running With Scissors or Look Me in the Eye. I was glad to find that this was a detailed portrait of a woman’s dealings with mental illness and its effect on her and her family.
I recommend A Long Journey Home to any memoir fan or any reader of Running With Scissors or Look Me in the Eye-it’s always great to have another POV.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I've ever read memoirs from two members of the same family - that would certainly put a new spin on things!

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks for being on the tour.



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