Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir

Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir

by Barbara Bracht Donsky

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Overview

Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir by Barbara Bracht Donsky

2017 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award: Silver for Memoir
2017 National Indie Excellence Awards: Finalist
2017 Independent Press Award: Distinguished Favorite for Memoir
2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards: Memoir Finalist
2016 Readers' Favorite :Silver Medal for Non-fiction Memoir
New York Public Library Top Pick Summer 2017

When Barbara Bracht's mother disappears, she is left a confused child whose blue-collar father is intent upon erasing any memory of her mother. Forced to keep the secret of her mother's existence from her younger brother, Barbara struggles to keep from being crushed under the weight of family secrets as she comes of age and tries to educate herself, despite her father's stance against women's education.

The story is not only of loss and resilience, but one showing the power of literature—from Little Orphan Annie to Prince Valiant to the incomparable Nancy Drew —to offer hope where there is little.

Told with true literary sensibility, this captivating memoir asks us to consider what it is that parents owe their children, and how far a child need go to make things right for her family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631520747
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Pages: 338
Sales rank: 646,038
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 - 10 Years

About the Author

Barbara Bracht Donsky, a reading specialist with a former private practice for children in Oyster Bay, New York, served for many years as president and capital campaign coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich. A magna cum laude graduate of Hunter College, with an MS from C. W. Post, Long Island University and an EdD from Hofstra University, her publications include Trends in Written Composition in Elementary Schools in the United States, 1890 -1960 , named dissertation of the year at Hofstra University, and articles in educational journals. Her short story, “What’s the Matter with Harry?” was also published in a The Naples Review in Florida. She lives with her husband in New York, where she writes a weekly blog, Desperately Seeking Paris.

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Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir by Barbara Bracht Donsky is the compelling memoir of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her mother. In the process of discovering her mother, she ends up discovering herself. The author speaks about her lost childhood, the loss of her mother, breaking away from a family that raised her with a lot of secrets, and finally going out into the world and getting educated. This poignant story will reach out to readers and take them through her trials and triumphs, sorrows and joys, and her coming of age. The book is heartrending and the author's narration is descriptive, drawing readers into her world, her emotional pain, and her angst. The pictures shared in the book help readers connect with the author, making her life more tangible to them. The author also shares the problems she faces with her father and her step mother, and how she moves away from her family secrets and guilt to be her own person. The pain of the author is palpable through her words, and shows how the people in our lives can directly and indirectly influence us and cause an impact on our lives. It's a good book for everyone, especially parents as it reminds them that they need to hear their children at any and every age. The author does an excellent job in capturing the sights and sounds of her life through this memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This memoir is so well written that the reader is not in the least tempted to skim a portion, but instead will find the book to be a thoroughly engrossing page-turner, and one to be savored. It is a fresh, highly descriptive, well articulated, insightful account of a remarkable life full of adventure, humor and love. (Nana is on my list of persons whom I want to meet in heaven!)
Reader_Views More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Kai Yaniz for Reader Views (10/16) In the book, “Veronica's Grave: A Daughter's Memoir” by Barbara Bracht Donsky, the reader is asked to consider the expectations parents owe their children and the distance a child should go to in order to do right by family. Donsky experienced an upbringing where her mother’s existence is erased from her memories and she feels she has to hide the truth from her younger sibling. As we travel through the memoir, Donsky shares her adventures in school, her career in the air, and the expectations her parents constantly placed on her as the only female of two brothers. In a time when it was frowned upon, Donsky’s determination to attend college and forge her independence is admirable. The book is interesting. I liked being transported to an earlier period in time. Since the book is a time capsule of memories, it was eye-opening to read about the sexism that occurred and its acceptance. I admired Donsky’s determination to be independent despite her parents’ objections. I also liked the thought process of Donsky as a young girl. I found her innocence and naivety endearing. Donsky wrote analogies and metaphors very well, such as comparison of the family dynamic as a triangle or describing the wind like a sweater. The emotional resonance from not knowing what happened to her mother did not translate in the book. The emotions go from naivety about it as a young girl to thinking about her mother every now and then as she grows older. A deeper expression of the emotional turmoil when the feelings arose would have carried out a deeper impact on the subject matter. Although it is understood that the events transpired decades ago and it is difficult to remember all the details, the memoir mentions people and events quickly. There is frequently no build-up or explanation to the rest of a meeting and what transpired after. For example, Donsky writes about a date, and then the memoir skips ahead, where the reader finds out she has been writing letters to and receiving from the man for a period. Another example, she is in a relationship after the initial meeting with a man. It is possible that type of ambiguous writing style was intentional in order to keep the book within a certain number of pages; however, I desired more details on these events. I did enjoy the story, however, a couple of recommendations in order for the book to have been more engaging would be to portray the difference between what the characters were thinking, doing, or saying as the dialog was conversational all the way through. This particular style affected the overall engagement in the book. However, this may have been a stylistic choice since Donsky did explain she didn’t remember everything as vividly while writing the book. Another recommendation would be to include captions with the pictures in order to bring further context to the story. In conclusion, “Veronica’s Grave” by Barbara Bracht Donsky was a bittersweet and enjoyable story. Donsky experienced a tragic loss in her life that was not addressed until a much later time. Throughout the memoir, Donsky consistently challenged societal norms against women in a graceful manner in addition to challenging her family’s viewpoints. Despite the lack of emotional intensity and the ambiguity in certain events, this book is a recommended read.
Reviewingismyforte More than 1 year ago
The heart-warming sincerity and depth of this coming-of-age memoir, set against a backdrop of New York suburbs in the author’s younger years and later, as a young adult, against the Parisian rues, is all the more surprising for the emotional repressiveness of her father and stepmother, as well as of the nuns at the Catholic schools that she attends. Barbara Bracht Donsky’s genuineness and close association with the urban landscape, for which she clearly has deep feelings of appreciation (“The best people live in the Bronx, the beautiful Bronx”) can first be seen when her father wishes to leave the Bronx to move to Yonkers, which he regards as a more suitable setting in which to raise his young family. This is only one of the first instances of where Barbara (or “Bob” as her father prefers to call her) has a fall out with her only surviving parent. Much of her young life is spent rebelling, in spirit at least, against the dictates of a father who fails to recognise Barbara’s potential for worthwhile and meaningful employment, let alone for the leadership role that she has since come to assume within the broader society. The failure to develop a fully trusting and meaningful relationship with either her father or her stepmother hinges a great deal on the insecurities to which Barbara is prone, due to her mother’s death not being explained to her from an early age, and to her having to find out through her cousins that her mother has passed away, when all the time she had thought that she must simply be missing. The author reveals in poignant detail the effect that such non-disclosure has on her formative years, drawing the reader into her own inner world of emotional angst. Yet, despite such bereavement and loss, Barbara is able to soldier on to become very much her own woman, and one who grows into a mature and empathetic figure, who is able to reach out to others precisely because of her emotional baggage, rather than in spite of it. Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir is worthwhile reading for any young woman who has had to struggle to assert herself against a patriarchal and traditionally religious upbringing. For sheer joy of spirit and joie de vivre, Barbara Donsky’s memoir surpasses many another work of its like―an experience that promises to be a rewarding read for mother and daughter alike, it fully deserves the acclaim that it has so far achieved.
Jenna2016 More than 1 year ago
What an interesting story! Barbara Donsky's story of losing her mother and not knowing about her death is filled with so many emotions. The story is tragic, but beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone!
Jenna2016 More than 1 year ago
What an interesting story! Barbara Donsky's story of losing her mother and not knowing about her death is filled with so many emotions. The story is tragic, but beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely coming-of-age story and an amazingly moving memoir. It will completely captivate you, and you won't want to put it down.
marissadecuir More than 1 year ago
This thoughtful, emotional and inspiring memoir is told in such a beautiful way, from the author's point of view as a young child, maturing as a young woman. You can see her coming of age throughout the pages, and your heart is with her as she overcomes such an awful situation of her father covering up her mother's death.
GapYearGirl More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Barbara Donsky's memoir about losing her mother at an early age, thereby also losing her champion and cheerleader. This is a story of triumph, of a determined young woman who, despite her father's protestations, breaks away from the blue-collar family that raised her under the weight of secrets, to get an education and see the world. The author's ability to channel the thoughts and voice of a child and then those of an adolescent, teenager and young woman is brilliant. The stories of the early years of commercial flight and the new career "stewardess" were particularly fascinating. I especially enjoyed the story, having grown up in the New York City area, and I was able to put myself in so many of the locations the author described.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This for some reason was totally not what I expected. However, I can say that I did enjoy reading it. And, unfortunately could relate to it in many ways. We must have grown up about the same time as my father felt the same way about college. While I felt the author did a very good job with her story, I also felt horrible about the fact when she did finally see her mother's grave. But I also have to say her life came with whipped cream on top compared to mine. Thanks to She Writes Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully and insightfully written, Veronica’s Grave is a moving memoir by a fulfilled, caring, successful, strong woman. Starting at age 3 with the death of her beloved mother, her childhood was characterized by emotional isolation, confusion, and a remarkable absence of support and consideration from the adults closest to her. As she moved into young adulthood, she used her inborn determination, intelligence and independent spirit to conquer the effects of her family’s shortcomings and matured into a person who illustrates the triumph of the human spirit. A MUST READ!!
Edmond Dantes More than 1 year ago
Donsky’s memoir is a great read. You enter the world of old, blue-collar NYC and then root for the author as she struggles to overcome the loss of her mother, the indifference of her father, and a world that seems to offer only drudgery.
1Monique More than 1 year ago
This highly enjoyable book is a memoir that reads like a very good novel: one continually wants to find out what happens next. It's difficult to find a book that is both delightful and serious, charming yet meaningful. Veronica's Grave is that book. It is chock full of right-on details that elicit fond recognition in the reader, and is written with wit yet with a palpable sadness and mystery that is a thread throughout the entire book. A book from a intelligent mind ,written with a lovely style, this book brings much reading pleasure.
J_K_Rowling More than 1 year ago
I love women authors and I loved this book!
J_Kerouac More than 1 year ago
A spectacular debut that is impeccably written, incredibly heartfelt and impossible to put down!! I read this book in two days and could've finished in one, if not for my pestering kids. As news articles and a number of accomplished authors have noted in public book forums, Veronica's Grave is a memoir that reads much more like a mystery novel. The story is told in the voice of a child, with the tension building as the author takes you on a journey of discovery from her mother's death in the opening passage to an eventual reckoning at her mom's gravesite. The best comparison I can make is that the book reminded me of the authenticity of time and place on display in the Mad Men TV series around advertising -- or even the more recent Oscar-winning movie Spotlight, where the Boston Globe newsroom was faithfully created (in a movie set in Toronto) down to the very pictures on the desks of the actual reporters. The same is true here: Details long forgotten of time and place are once again brought deftly and vividly to life. Clearly, if you remember the Bronx, TWA, jazz clubs and the like you'll love this book. I was born of a different age than this author, but I nonetheless could see the painting she so lovingly drew - and felt transported! Hard to imagine Veronica's Grave is Barbara Bracht Donsky's first book. I do hope there is a second act, but for now I will just re-read her first. It won’t take long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I always feel a little guilty giving a memoir a low rating. Unless the memoir is poorly written the lowest rating I’ll give is 3 ½ stars, even then I’ll only go as low as 3 stars. With that said I could only rate Veronica’s Grave 2 ½ stars and I didn’t hesitate one bit. I found this work not only to be poorly written, unemotional, and it also made me quite angry. To start off, the author chose to eschew the use of dialogue tags. Cormac McCarthy said, “There’s no reason to blot the page up with weird little marks. I mean, if you write properly you shouldn’t have to punctuate.” and “You really have to be aware that there are no quotation marks, and write in such a way as to guide people as to who’s speaking.” Fair enough, if you have enough skill as a writer to write dialogue without the aid of dialogue tags, do so. The author did not have the skill to pull this off. The dialogue between two characters runs together in one paragraph, leaving the reader to try and decipher who's speaking and in some cases whether or not a specific sentence was actually verbalized. In one instance, Barbara is having a discussion with a nun and she seems to have developed telepathic powers. The way the sentence is written, it gives the impression she's reading the thoughts of the nun. It was only after I had gone back and read the sentence two or three times, I realized that Barbara had actually spoken. The entire book read like this and it was exhausting. Possibly because of the poor writing, I found a lot of instances where the author would refer back to something her father or mother said or did, that I couldn’t remember reading. She mentions several times near the end of the book how her father forbade her from mentioning the death of Veronica to her little brother Eddie. I couldn't remember an instance where it’s explicitly stated that she cannot mention her mother died. I even flipped back to the beginning of the book and skimmed to see if I could find this. Did she just infer that from her father telling her to call his new wife mother or was she told to hide the death of her mother? If it was just this one instance I’d be inclined to think that she was specifically told to lie about her mother and I just missed it, but this is repeatedly done throughout the memoir. She mentions conversations that she had or incidences that occurred in her life as a mere afterthought and it left me feeling like I had skipped huge chunks of the book or just wasn't paying attention. I can forgive a poorly written memoir, but I found that the overall work was written with little emotion. For a work that claims to deal "with loss at a young age" and "offers the reader a clearer, more optimistic perspective on life" it felt dry and distant. The book blurb offered a story of hope and overcoming adversity, but the text didn't deliver. I already wasn’t feeling any warm or fuzzy feelings towards this book and then I read this: "Survivor's tales -- be they from those incarcerated in brutal prisons, concentration camps or shipwrecked at sea -- point toward the brain's ability, when under stress, to retreat from the unrelenting fears and find sanctuary in memories drawn from more hospitable times. The memory of that morning at 2180 Ryer Avenue ... was such a sanctuary." Nope. No. No. No. No. No. No. The author just compared her childhood to being imprisoned in a concentration camp. Days