An honest, unfiltered memoir about a girl with an unconventional family.
“The story everyone wants to hear isn’t the story I want to tell.” Lara Lillibridge grew up with two momsan experience that shaped and scarred her at the same time. Told from the perspective of “Girl,” Lillibridge’s memoir is the no-holds-barred account of childhood in an atypical household. Personally less concerned with her mother’s sexuality and more with how she fits into a world both disturbed and obsessed with it, Girl finds that, in other people’s eyes, “The most interesting thing about me is not about me at all; it is about my parents.”
It won’t be long before readers realize that “unconventional” barely scratches the surface. In the early years, Girl’s feminist mother reluctantly allows her to play with her favorite Barbies while her stepmother refuses to comfort her when she wakes up from nightmares. She goes skinny dipping on family vacations in upstate New York and kisses all the boys at church. Girl and her brother travel four thousand milesunaccompaniedto visit their father in rural Alaska, where they sleep in a locked cabin without running water, telephone, or electricity. Raised to be a free spirit by norm-defying parents, Girl has to define her own boundaries as she tries to fit into heteronormative suburban life, all while navigating her mother’s expectations, her stepmother’s mental illness, and her father’s serial divorces.
Lillibridge bravely tells her own story and offers a unique perspective. At times humorous and pithy while cringe-worthy and heartbreaking at others, Girlish is a human story that challenges readers to reevaluate their own lives and motivations.
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in creative nonfiction. In 2016, she won the Slippery Elm Literary Journal ’s Prose Contest, American Literary Review ’s Creative Nonfiction Contest, and was a finalist in both Black Warrior Review ’s Nonfiction Contest and Disquiet ’s Literary Prize in Creative Nonfiction. Lara resides in Cleveland, Ohio.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Childhood Crossword Puzzle ix
Notes from the Fourth Wall: This is how it feels to write about lesbian parents xvi
The Early Years 1
Elementary School 31
Middle School 61
Junor High 123
High School 159
College and Beyond 259
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lara Lillibridge takes an intimate and honest approach to documenting family dynamics in her debut novel, Girlish. Set uniquely from the third person perspective (rarely seen in a memoir), Lillibridge lets the audience privy to her childhood, of not just growing up with a lesbian mother and her wife, but a whole other realm concerning her abusive father. While reading, I’ve felt at times that the title pigeonholed the book, as it was about so much more than growing up in a lesbian household. Lillibridge explores themes of trust, tenuous relationships with family members, creating family in friends, and delicately highlighting moments of healing. Her memoir is a great example that real life does not always have closure. But sometimes that just means that the story is not done and there can always be more to read down the road. I welcome the chance to read more from this author.
Lillibridge may have been raised by two moms, but this memoir is so much more than that. The unique style--Lillibridge writes about herself in the third person, referring to her younger self as "Girl," with occasional chapters ("Notes from the Fourth Wall") in which she observes and comments on the situation from the first person--allowed for a more incisive look, and in brief moments Lillibridge is able to show us the perspective of other members. The third person gives us just enough distance to not be swallowed by the abuses and the first person reassures us that Lillibridge turns out just fine--better than fine, in fact. As a teenager, Girl is asked by a gay friend, "Will my children hate me for being gay?" She responds, "Well, yes, they will...But if you weren't gay they'd hate you for something else, like if you had an accent or were too strict or were overweight." This, to me, is key to the memoir: It's not so much that Lillibridge is writing about having lesbian mothers; it's a child recounting her life and she just so happens to have two lesbian mothers. As she says, it's the only life she knows. The scary parts come not from having a gay mother but in her stepmother's mental illness and her father's--who moved from their Rochester home to Alaska--overt sexuality that crosses too many lines with Girl and her brother. The memoir can be harrowing at times--the abuse Lillibridge suffered at the hands of her father and stepmother (and her mother by neglect)--yet it was never unreadable and at times, the story was downright funny. I so admire a writer who can tackle such serious subjects without writing a book that brings the reader down. The book was enjoyable to read, the ending hopeful, and I cheered for Girl the entire way. Definitely recommend.