Monday, September 14, 2015

"The Memory Weaver" by Jane Kirkpatrick - a journey to healing

Cover ArtJane Kirkpatrick writes another moving tale of the Pacific Northwest, this time based on the life of the first living white child born west of the Rockies. In the years following her mother's death, Eliza Spalding is still trying to cope with the trauma of surviving a massacre and the hostage situation that followed when she was only twelve. Without her mother's tempering presence, Eliza feels trapped in her controlling father's home, raising her siblings and caring for the household. With memories hounding her and no mother to guide her, she decides to take her life into her own hands, little realizing that it will lead her back to her haunted past.

This is not a romance, nor really a memoir; it's more the story of a woman's path to healing after trauma reshaped her life and the lives of her family. It's a gentle story, a thinking story. A story about real people and real events, which don't always line up with what would have made a happier, more story-like tale. But it is a satisfying story nonetheless.

I know that grief and trauma can take all forms, and the author does a good job describing different coping mechanisms. Eliza, her father, her husband, her friend Nancy--each copes with trauma in their own way. Aspects of Nancy's symptoms reminded me of my cousin after my uncle died in an accident--simple routines that don't really make sense, yet somehow help to cope. With God's help, one can improve. Our experiences shape us so that we can never be who we once were, but over time we can find healing and become someone new.

I like the point the author makes about memories. Memories change over time, and the things we remember may not have happened at all. Or they did happen, but we did not see the big picture, and our interpretations of the memory become skewed. And for a woman who, at twelve years old, survived a massacre and then became the interpreter between the hostages and their captors--under such trauma, how many memories can remain pure and clear?

"Some of what I remembered was not my own story. It was twisted like tobacco strands, tangled with a dozen other memories of people who were here and others who were not even part of the terror." (309)

I enjoyed several subtle references to the author's other books written about real people in the Oregon Territory during that time - the religious colony from Missouri that settled there (Emma of Aurora) and the first known black woman in the territory (A Light in the Wilderness).

Thank you Revell for providing a free book for review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Related novels:
Emma of Aurora
A Light in the Wilderness
This Road We Traveled

No comments:

Post a Comment