Natasha Trethewey is a former U. S. poet laureate, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and now, with Memorial Drive, a memoirist of stunning talent and power. When Natasha was just 19, her beloved mother was murdered by her abusive ex-husband, the man Natasha had known as a stepfather for many years. Memorial Drive is a reckoning with the event that has haunted her for decades, and it is one of the most delicately and beautifully constructed memoirs I’ve ever read. It is also an education about what it means to be a biracial girl raised in the Deep South.
I found this book to be a triumph of lyrical prose, and a heartrending endeavor to confront an unthinkable tragedy. In Natasha’s hands, the story is at once a beautiful elegy and an investigation into how the violent loss of her mother both shattered her and forged her as an artist. Because Natasha is a profound writer and thinker, it is also about erasure, fate, race, gender, class, and finding the language for unspeakable loss and grief. Her work exalts and shines, soars and probes — and never looks away from pain. I admire this extraordinary writer and human with all my being.