Five Memoirs Recommended by Kendra Atleework

Kendra Atleework‘s new memoir Miracle Country is a sweeping family memoir that explores the connection of a family to a place. Here are her recommendations of five memoirs that also deal with place, history, and family (after you’ve read Miracle Country, of course.)

1. Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy: the writing life, the natural world, the way we’re tangled up in history: these ideas are blended with the story of a black mother and daughter as they travel together, navigating complex spaces.

2. Home Baked by Alia Volz: the author grew up in San Francisco, and her memoir details her parents’ weed brownie business in the 1970s. A family narrative merges with California history, telling the story of some of San Francisco’s most tumultuous years. The (real) characters are larger than life, and the scope of the research is impressive.

3. Nobody’s Son by Mark Slouka: the author’s parents survived the Nazis, then smuggled themselves perilously out of their native Czechoslovakia to escape the communist regime. This beautifully written memoir centers on Slouka’s mother and her legacy of trauma, plus a love story that transcends time and distance.

4. The Girls In My Town by Angela Morales: a coming of age story and a portrait of California, Morales chronicles her 1970s childhood in Los Angeles, her relationships to women in her family who taught her how to live, and meditations from a hospital room, where she recuperates next to a teenage mom, recognizing a world of endless possibilities for their daughters.

5. Spirit Run by Noé Álvarez: the author grew up working at an apple-packing plant in Yakima, WA, alongside his mom. He got a college scholarship, then learned about a 5,000-mile marathon organized by First Nations people. He dropped out to run beside Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya people. This book tells his own story alongside theirs while they run for four months, from Guatemala to Canada.

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