They Left Us Everything - A Memoir by Plum Johnson
Publishing Date: March 18, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 288 pages
The Premise from the Publisher: "After almost twenty years of caring for elderly parents—first for their senile father, and then for their cantankerous ninety-three-year-old mother—author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when their mother, the surviving parent, dies. Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, which hasn’t been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three rooms bulge with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum remembers her loving but difficult parents who could not have been more different: the British father, a handsome, disciplined patriarch who nonetheless could not control his opinionated, extroverted Southern-belle wife who loved tennis and gin gimlets. The task consumes her, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined. Items from childhood trigger memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario in the 1950s and 60s. But unearthing new facts about her parents helps her reconcile those relationships with a more accepting perspective about who they were and what they valued. They Left Us Everything is a funny, touching memoir about the importance of preserving family history to make sense of the past and nurturing family bonds to safeguard the future" (Penguin Canada).
My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for this novel, I was intrigued because I haven't read anything by Plum Johnson before and reading a memoir that takes place in Canada really sounded interesting. I always love approaching memoirs and/or biographies of people I don't know because it allows me to enter the text without a preconceived notion of the individual. I also really enjoyed how this style of memoir allowed me to not only learn about Plum, but her family. It is through packing up her childhood home and sifting through items that she is able to recall childhood memories of her mother, father and also her siblings. It allowed her to see things in a different light and recall things about her parents. I really enjoyed reading about Plum's mom and how difficult their relationship was at times. I definitely empathized with those parts because relationships with your mother can sometimes be quite difficult and you often forget that they are more than just your mom. It really made me appreciate my mom so much more after reading these passages and it made me think that even though sometimes I don't understand my mother's actions, or she doesn't understand me, there is more to it than that. The passage where she recalls "knowing" her mother at all definitely stuck with me. I must admit, I did go and give my mom and my aunt a massive hug after finishing this book. This book speaks about such an important thing that is often neglected and yet so simple: family. As an only child, I don't have the family dynamic like Plum did, but still, there were so many parts of the novel that I definitely enjoyed. It just makes you really appreciate your family and to encourage you to spend as much time with them as you can. I would highly recommend this read for anyone. It is a beautiful book that is definitely relatable on many levels and shows a realistic depiction of the hardships and the good of family.
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)
Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)
Please be sure to check out the other stops on the gritLit blog tour :)
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was sent to me by gritlit's Artistic Director in exchange for my participation in the blog tour and for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.