by Vicki Laveau-Harvie
In this award-winning memoir, two sisters reckon with the convalescence and death of their outlandishly tyrannical mother and with the care of their psychologically terrorized father, all relayed with dark humor and brutal honesty. When Vicki Laveau-Harvie and her sister learn their mother has been hospitalized for a broken hip, they return to their parents' home in Alberta, Canada, to put things back in order. Though their parents disowned them years before, the sisters now reassert themselves in the dysfunctional household: their father, undernourished and suffering from Stockholm syndrome is unable to see that he is suffering at the hand of his outlandish and vindictive wife. Rearranging their lives to be the daughters they were never allowed to be, the sisters focus their efforts on helping their father cope with the unending manipulations of their mother and must encounter all the characters common to the circus of caretaking--oddball nurses and home helpers; overopinionated hospital staff who have fallen for their mother's compulsive lies--along with the pressures that come with caring for elderly loved (and sometimes unloved) ones. Set against the natural world of remote Canada ("in winter the cold will kill you, nothing personal"), this memoir--at once dark and hopeful--shatters precedents about grief, anger, and family trauma with surprising tenderness and humor.