Tilting, A Memoir by Nicole Harkin
I’ve read Tilting, A Memoir by Nicole Harkin as part of a book blog tour*. The book is easy to read, very nicely written. I would gladly pick up another book by her. I liked and hated the story at the same time, can’t even imagine how hard it was for her to live her life.
My review contains spoilers.
The book is, as the name suggests, a memoir. Harkin talks about her life, growing up in a highly dysfunctional family, with selfish, self-absorbed, and toxic parents. A family where appearances count, but where everybody was unhappy. The children were spanked (sometimes beaten with the belt), although she is saying it was not abuse because it was something that was done back then. I can’t agree with that, spanking is a form of child abuse, regardless of how many people are doing it at the same time. Besides, the father was controlling, and the mother was a “functional alcoholic”, more preoccupied with smoking instead of learning how to cook for the children. A lot of yelling was involved too. Of course, they were a church going family.
Harkin had three younger siblings and their relationship is a response to the way their parents acted. There were moments while I was reading the book that I got so annoyed. She was not encouraged by her parents even when she was doing amazing things, like giving up sugar for an year, as a child, to win a bet. How much determination she had to do that, it was fantastic.
Her father almost died, after he recovered, her parents got a divorce. From my point of view, that was too late, the children were deeply affected by the family relation. Her father had a mistress and he went on to marry her. Her mother got cancer (unsurprisingly considering she was smoking, drinking a few glasses of wine daily, and not exactly keen on vegetables) and Harkin talks a lot about her mother’s struggle with the disease. A scene in the book just shows how much their parents relationship affected their way of thinking of marriage. While her mother was ill, in bed, she asked her youngest daughter to imitate her ex-husband’s new wife. They were making fun of how much attention she was giving him. They learned a relationship is a power struggle, instead of a partnership, two loving people doing things for each other… something that would make a marriage happy. It made me sad to read that. I hope she has a lovely relation with her husband and doesn’t try to recreate what she saw as a child.
Her mother died and she was very affected by this. She turned to religion as a coping mechanism. In her words, she couldn’t accept her mother just died, that it must be more. All through the book she mentions different superstitions she had, so is not surprising her religious views.
Her father sued them after her mother died for money. I think that says all about their family relations. He would have a heart attack and die a few years later. She and her siblings are now married with their own families.
Tilting, A Memoir by Nicole Harkin
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My rating: 4/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Year it was published: 2017
About the author: Nicole Harkin is a writer and photographer based in Washington. She previously worked on government oversight. Tilting, A Memoir is her first book. Nicole also lived in Berlin where she studied German environmentalism.
Website & Social Media Links: www.tiltingamemoir.com
*I received a copy of Tilting, A Memoir by Nicole Harkin for the purpose of this review and book blog tour. All opinions are my own.