In her memoir, Sherrie Lancaster recounts her abandonment by her mother and a life-long quest to find the love and acceptance she lost.
Lancaster is one of five siblings born to an unstable father and mercurial mother whose drastic mood shifts spark constant moves. By the time the author is ten, she has moved 17 times—and her mother leaves her husband and family for another man.
Lancaster then lives with her father, but when he finds another woman who doesn’t like her, she’s often taken in by the kindly grandparents of a friend, as well as relatives. However, she remains grieving and withdrawn. “She must love me by now,” she repeatedly thinks of her mother. But each time she visits her mother, through the years, she finds her drunk and battered by her husband; each time, she expects a loving environment but leaves feeling only shame and emptiness.
After high school, Lancaster works a myriad of low-paying jobs. She gives birth to a son, then, years later, another son. Meanwhile her extended family experiences a litany of misfortunes, including the death of three brothers (one of AIDS, one in a plane crash, another in a fire). Eventually, her mother and her mother’s second husband, both drunk, die of what is likely hypothermia after their van veers into a river.
Skillfully written, the story flows smoothly, and readers will sympathize with Lancaster’s emotional pain and urge to repeatedly blame herself for her mother’s unhappiness and poor choices. Unfortunately, this tendency eventually becomes frustrating. One wishes Lancaster wouldn’t excuse her mother’s behavior—as she does by blaming the abandonment on her mother’s second husband—as often as she does.
At book’s end, Lancaster notes with scant explanation: “I am a fortunate woman and glad to be a contented one.” While her healing is welcome, it’s also jarring, given the lack of solid build-up.
Attention to such issues would enhance this title. Nonetheless, those in similar situations will relate to Lancaster’s struggles, heartfully detailed in these pages.