THE AMBIVALENT MEMOIRIST is the aptly titled memoir by author Sandra Hurtes who is searching for the place she can call home. Is it Brooklyn where she was born and raised and where she chose to remain? Is it elsewhere among the cities that beckon her with their reputable MFA writing programs? Or is it to be found in her family history, in the quirks her parents, as holocaust survivors, thrust upon her at every turn whether she likes it or not? It is here, as well as many other places, where Hurtes searches for the answers to these questions.
In some ways, the assertion that THE AMBIVALENT MEMOIRIST is the author’s search for home is a misnomer. It is more a journey of self-discovery and of finding her place in this world. While she tends to come across as indecisive or passive, her strength lies in her ability to closely examine the world around her and use it to provoke more intricate examination. As so often happens in real life, her journey is a meandering one. She pauses at one memory for a glance. She hesitates at another for a more in depth look before moving on to the next. At each stop, she probes and digs for answers while examining not only her own motivations, but how they and her relationships with those around her—her parents, her friends, her students—play a role in determining exactly who she is. The decision to present her memoir in the fractured format she did, Hurtes subtly reminds the reader that real life is represented by snippets, an encounter here, a decision there. Some may find that this format makes it slightly difficult to follow Hurtes’ thought processes.
THE AMBIVALENT MEMORIST is a thought-provoking read for those who find the puzzle presented by a non-linear approach fascinating.
Reviewed for IndieReader by K.J. Pierce