I wanted to read Katherine Mayfield‘s book ‘The Box of Daughter‘ for a long time before I finally did. This is one of the few times I knew the author before I knew the book. I met Katherine through a Wells-Ogunquit Adult Education class I took several years ago when I was working on my own novel. If you have ever the opportunity to take a writing class with Katherine, do it. You will love her low pressure and motivating teaching style. She creates a wonderful, safe environment in her classes, such that even I, who was always terrified to share my writing with others, found myself reading aloud to the class an essay that I had just written.
Anyway, I was interested to see how she wrote. I immediately related to Katherine’s childhood and teenage years of family dysfunction, trying to please everyone, and chronic ‘I’m sorry-ing”. The feeling of walking on eggshells at home, trying to keep the peace at all costs is oh-so familiar. Katherine gives an honest account of her life with her brother and her parents which (be forewarned) may bring up some of your own difficult memories as you read.
The belt? Check. Bullying? Check. The shock of seeing your grandmother’s teeth in a glass for the first time? Check.
I love Katherine’s reference (p 98) to looking at life through ‘pain-colored glasses’…right? It wasn’t all bad, though. There was some card playing in the evening. The Youth Group in California. Finding her voice in environments that stifled it.
In the end, Katherine’s book reminded me that, most of the time, our parents were doing the best that they knew how to do.
If you like this book, maybe read my book next: One Brave Thing!