Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive

A Daughter's Memoir

Book - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
At nineteen Trethewey's world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma. Here she explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became. Moving through her mother's history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a 'child of miscegenation' in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985. -- adapted from jacket
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062248572
Characteristics: 211 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
JCLSarahZ Dec 09, 2020

I felt that the writing of this memoir was a necessary and cathartic experience for the author.

CRRL_MaryB Dec 03, 2020

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
Trethewey, former US Poet Laureate, expresses her grief, loss, and guilt over her mother’s murder in this searing memoir.

Nov 16, 2020

Emotionally tough read but very important subject. Flows really nicely. Finished in a few days.

Sep 27, 2020

Former US poet laureate Natasha Trethewey's moving memoir about her mother's murder at the hands of her former stepfather and her life up that point. It is a treatise on trauma and its effect on a family and the spirit and an account of domestic abuse and what is hidden. As a poet, she is capable of creating indelible images with her words at times. Here she is describing playing back her mother's voice on the answering machine after the murder: "The length of tape that held her voice had been as tenuous as the faith that held Orpheus and Eurydice together as he tried to lead her out of the underworld. In my impatience, I had severed it."

debwalker Sep 22, 2020

When your mother was murdered....

Sep 18, 2020

What a great read but sad story!

Sep 07, 2020

Others have expounded. I will simply urge you to read this book.

Aug 29, 2020

A searing memorial to a mother by a Poet Laureate. It's beautifully written, as you'd expect of such an accomplished writer, full of dreams, the meaning of metaphors, and memories, many of them brutal. Trethewey also includes the transcripts of two final conversations between her mother and her step-father just days before he murdered her mother. That's difficult reading, really is. It's amazing to me that Natasha Trethewey doesn't seethe with anger at the police whose incompetence allowed this murder to happen. Also, no anger toward her mother, which is more understandable I guess. But so little anger expressed.

Aug 28, 2020

A daughter's powerful account as she looks back on the murder of her mother by her mother's husband (not the author's father). That the daughter is an acclaimed poet accounts for the almost dreamlike approach to the nightmare she is recalling, but the horror of what her mother endured during the years she suffered from domestic abuse comes across in the starkest terms. A beautifully written book about a terrible and haunting reality and memory.

CALS_Shelby Aug 21, 2020

I have loved Natasha Trethewey’s poetry since a professor pressed Domestic Work into my hands in early 2016. That same attention to detail and sense of a line that take her poems from “good” to “great” is evident in her prose. Described by Trethewey herself as a “companion” to her 2018 retrospective Monument, Memorial Drive is an exploration of and reckoning with grief, specifically, the grief Trethewey has lived with since her stepfather murdered her mother in June of 1985.

There’s a lot to love in this memoir. The story opens with an extended section titled “Another Country,” which deftly moves through Trethewey’s early childhood memories. Fans of her poetry will recognize echoes from Domestic Work here — poems like “Cameo,” “Hot Combs,” and “Family Portrait,” especially, but also “At the Owl Club…,” “Flounder,” and “Gathering,” too.

From here the narrative becomes decidedly more fragmentary, mirroring the trauma and texture of grief. I love the interstitial pieces best, all of them titled [ ]. I began to think of them as caesuras -- a poetic term for a pause near the middle of a line, or, more broadly, any interruption or break. These interludes, along with the varied length of each chapter, mimic the disorientation and stop-and-start nature of grief.

Trethewey, as I’ve come to expect, is a beautifully skilled writer. I underlined, circled, and tick-marked so many lines in this short (212-page) book. It’s the kind of book that lends itself to rereads — like all of Trethewey’s books. I’ll return to it many times, for sure.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HCL

To Top