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Ghost Songs: A Memoir

Ghost Songs: A Memoir

by Regina McBride

Narrated by Madeleine Lambert

Unabridged — 6 hours, 40 minutes

Regina McBride
Ghost Songs: A Memoir

Ghost Songs: A Memoir

by Regina McBride

Narrated by Madeleine Lambert

Unabridged — 6 hours, 40 minutes

Regina McBride

Audiobook (Digital)

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Regina McBride, author of The Nature of Water and Air and The Land of Women, delivers a powerful and affecting debut memoir, Ghost Songs.

Ghost Songs charts McBride's teenage struggle to separate madness from imagination and sorrow from devastation in the wake of the shocking deaths of both her parents. Traveling from New York City to the desert of New Mexico to the shores of Ireland, McBride searches for herself, home, and a way to return to the family that remains. Harrowing and haunting, Ghost Songs is a meditation on love and loss and, in the end, a celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This soul-wrenching memoir by novelist McBridge (The Land of Women) recounts the author’s time in a psychiatric ward at age 18, after her parents’ suicides, as she gets to know the other patients and copes with a flood of memories, both happy and sad, of her life before her parents’ deaths. McBride’s memoir contains lush details, but sometimes the multitude of memories overwhelms the narrative and takes away from the otherwise powerful depiction of a teenager understanding the complexity of newfound adult responsibility, poverty, and her parents’ identity, while coming to terms with the trauma of loss and her encounters with the miraculous. McBride discusses how theater and a concerned acting teacher try to help Regina cope with these problems, but it is ultimately a visit to Ireland that helps her understand her feelings and become whole again. Agent: Ellen Levine and Alexa Stark, Trident Media Group. (Oct.)

The Village Voice

"In her elegiac first memoir, Regina McBride delves deep into the psychospiritual explanations for a haunting, less concerned with whether or not specters are real than with why some see them in the first place."

An ELLE Readers' Choice Book

"Beautiful, compelling story . . . I loved this book because I felt that I went a journey with McBride. I understood what she lived. I would recommend this book to anyone."

The Paris Review

"[McBride's] journey toward recovery takes her from New York to the desert of New Mexico and finally to the shores of Ireland, where she is able to reconcile the events that happened to her and to her parents. The magnitude of the author’s grief is at times overwhelming; there’s an unerring sense of distress and disorder. By the end of the book, we’ve pieced together her life—I felt an odd, poignant sense of calm with her when, in the final pages, she sits in a café in Dublin."

Best Fall Entertainment Vulture

"A rare ghost story that isn't fiction."

Read It Forward

"Regina McBride’s lyrical, beautiful writing is all the more astounding when paired with its subject matter. . . . Unflinching, yet tender, McBride’s memoir is a moving tribute to the realities of one’s past and how they shape our present"

Editor's Pick

"What makes this book so original is the almost uncanny way McBride's narrative blurs the edges between a tortured past and a confusing present. She dares to hope that a half-formed ghost she sees at the foot of her bed is an amalgam of both of her parents, no longer separate—their unconstrained spirit as fluid and searching as her own."

Alice Sebold

"In Regina McBride's Ghost Songs, there is a mysterious alchemy at play. With a subtle hand, McBride transforms personal horror into poetic myth. In writing this story that happened to her in real time, she creates a book that feels timeless. I was under its spell from word one."

The Minnesota Star Tribune

"This stark, graceful memoir . . . is written not in chronological order but in brief, vivid fragments (a paragraph, a page) that bounce around in time, slowly revealing the tormented, the happy, the tragic."


"This memoir of survival is even more about reinvention than reflecting on the past. Harrowing, sincere, and unforgettable."

Michael Thomas

"It’s a wonder to me that after reading this book of such intense pain and deep sorrow that I felt—and know I’ll continue to feel—peace and hope. Regina McBride has written a beautiful memoir in which ghosts—individual and compound—can, like the living, be transformed from that which we fear to that which we might accept and love."

Margot Livesey

"As a child Regina McBride's life was shattered several times over as the adults around her disappeared. Now in glittering, vivid prose she pieces that life together again and allows the reader to follow her in an extraordinary account of love, tragedy, and recovery. Ghost Songs carries us to the heart of grief, and beyond."

Alexandra Styron

"In Ghost Songs, Regina McBride embarks on a brave journey, around Ireland and into the heart of familial loss. Each stop is vividly rendered and gracefully observed. This is a beautiful memoir, as deft and wise as it is elementally sad."


"Regina McBride’s soul-stirring memoir Ghost Songs aims to uncover the truth behind what caused her parents to commit an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the Irish Catholic church. [McBride] discovers the limitlessness of her strength and potential after she comes to terms with what haunts her."

Library Journal

★ 10/15/2016
Novelist McBride's memoir contains tragedy, alienation from family, a hospital stay, escape, even ghostly hallucinations. But the rapid back-and-forth between the teenager clawing her way forward after the deaths of her parents and childhood memories of her troubled family pull readers into her anguish. McBride resists a linear narrative. She does not speculate expansively on her parents' inner lives, or ascribe meaning to others' actions. Her memories stand alone, giving the book an epistolary quality. VERDICT Compelling, beautifully told, and likely to stay with readers for a long time. Book groups will have much to discuss. (LJ 6/15/16)—Kate Sheehan

Kirkus Reviews

A novelist and poet tells the fragmented story of how she came to terms with the suicides of her father and then her mother.The memoir opens with an 18-year-old McBride (The Fire Opal, 2012, etc.) in a psychiatric hospital struggling to cope with the deaths of her parents. Moving back and forth through time, the author examines her past in an attempt to understand it and the parents who shaped it. The daughter of two Irish Catholic parents who “lov[ed] and miss[ed]” an Ireland they had never seen, McBride bore witness to the traumatic disintegration of her family over time. The problems began when her father, Vincent, did not get the well-paying job he and McBride’s mother, Barbara, expected. The family was forced to move out of the big house in Yonkers that her parents had bought in expectation of Vincent’s success. They traveled to Santa Fe along with McBride’s senile, often cruel grandmother Nanny. Meanwhile, Vincent continued to struggle professionally. Unable to advance in his career, he took a second job as a bartender and began to drift into alcoholism while Barbara became increasingly unstable and Nanny more demented and embittered. After Nanny’s death, the situation between McBride’s parents only worsened, with Barbara threatening suicide and becoming more violent toward her husband, who eventually shot himself. Five months later, Barbara shot herself as well and “died without a face.” Haunted both literally and figuratively by her parents’ ghosts, McBride eventually sold everything she owned and moved to Ireland, where she was determined to live and make peace with her parents and her past. Harrowing yet beautiful, the book is not only an exploration of the interplay between memory and imagination. It is also an eloquent meditation on the painful burdens of the past that parents bequeath their children. A wrenchingly lyrical memoir of family and tragedy.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940169900842
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 11/15/2019
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews