Here’s the thing about memoirs: though they are based upon fact, readers still need them to be full-on, satisfying, structurally-sound stories–even though neat beginnings, middles, climaxes, and conclusions are not necessarily how tales that take place in ‘real life’ proceed. However, for the most part, Stacey Aaronson manages to encapsulate the events of her and her mom as they transpired in the memoir RAISING, AND LOSING, MY REMARKABLE TEENAGE MOTHER, while simultaneously crafting a darn good page-turner that could easily rival any riveting novel.
Initially readers are likely to be drawn into the trajectory of a young daughter born to a 16-year-old mother who is therefore experiencing the end of typical high school years in entirely atypical ways. They are likely to be captivated by the then also atypical life and co-parenting paradigm Mom goes on to shape with her daughter, her baby daddy/husband-for-a-minute, and various sets of grandparents, plus new step-parents. In an added, happy-diversity bonus, the pretty-as-a-picture daughter (chosen to be “Kissy Girl” whom all the kindergarten boys chase) grows up to fall in love with a female life partner and this is not an issue. How refreshing. Also intriguing is the fact that right up front in the Introduction the author chooses to relay how the book will end. After pulling out all the stops and sharing a whirlwind journey to cure Mom of cancer–each of them certain health will prevail–unbelievably, Mom dies. Yet knowing what the finale will be in advance does not rob a single page of its impact. Some readers may wish for a few less gory physical details regarding colostomy bags and medical tubes spraying/leaking bile everywhere, or perhaps a bit deeper understanding into why Mom and the love of her own life didn’t choose to figure out an alternate way to have kids together, rather than splitting up and leaving her eventually marooned in a less-than-supportive marriage from which she never escaped. Yet the intertwined hopes and frustrations of the two main ‘characters’ are steadily palpable throughout. And even knowing how the journey of this particular lifetime shared will come to its close does not detract from still wishing–along with these individuals–for a happier outcome.
Absorbing in its exploration of how people’s choices shape–not only their relationships, but also how their life journey unfolds–Stacey Aaronson’s RAISING, AND LOSING, MY REMARKABLE TEENAGE MOTHER is a memoir worth relishing.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader