Thursday, January 16, 2014

“Nelson writes in stark, harrowing detail about the devastation alcohol and drugs have inflicted on her family over the years… as Nelson strives to find balance and peace, she manages to offer hope that survival is possible.” —Publishers Weekly

If Only You People Could Follow Directions is a spellbinding debut by Jessica Hendry Nelson. In linked autobiographical essays, Nelson has reinvented the memoir with her thouroughly original voice, fearless writing, and hypnotic storytelling. At its center, the book is the story of three people: Nelson's mother Susan, her brother Eric, and Jessica herself. These three characters are deeply bound to one another, not just by the usual ties of blood and family, but also by a mother's drive to keep her children safe in the midst of chaos. When Nelson's father sinks into alcoholism and depression and eventually dies at a young age, the relationship between the three central characters develops a closeness that is idiosyncratic, funny, and often dangerous. Trapped in a web of Philadelphia family-mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents-and shackled to the needs of those closest to her, Jessica struggles to reconcile with her past and escape to some sense of a future.

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