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“H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald is a rewarding new read about emotional disarray; more favorites for a library of personal survival stories
Posted on February 28, 2015 at 9:50pm EDT
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This literary classic chronicles a traumatic childhood fraught with racism, rape, and Angelou’s struggle for self-definition.
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Wolff’s young life involves getting knocked around by his mother's violent beaux, trying to run away, and fantasizing about being a star student.
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Chang braids together the lives of three fierce women: her grandmother, a concubine; her mother, a loyal Chinese Communist; and herself.
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Monette writes of his odyssey from a closeted student to a happy, openly gay man.
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Disfigured after cancer required the removal of one-third of her jaw, Grealy recalls the pain of living in a society obsessed with beauty.
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Wurtzel recounts her pre-Prozac struggle with crippling depression and suicide attempts (as if adolescence weren’t bad enough).
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Pelzer’s account of the vicious abuse and criminal neglect he suffered at his mother’s hands as a child may be the misery-memoir archetype.
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Set in small-town 1960s Texas, Karr’s darkly funny childhood memoir stars her extended family as eccentrics.
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This tale of an Irish immigrant family living in Brooklyn and Ireland has it all: deaths of young children, lifelong alcoholism, poverty, and typhoid.
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In a memoir as informative as it is moving, Knapp intersperses facts about alcoholism through the story of her own 20-year battle.
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When 12-year-old Burroughs’ unstable mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist, his life takes a bizarre turn, but his humor remains.
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Some of Frey’s memoir was, he later admitted, fabricated. But we’ve included it because what’s more miserable than being publicly shamed?
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Part of Operation Peter Pan, where children were airlifted from Cuba to the U.S., Eire is torn between safety and longing for his faraway home.
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With parents who sometimes forgot to feed their children, it’s a shock Walls can write about her impoverished, nomadic youth with affection.
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One of the greatest writers of our time suffers a terrible tragedy: While her daughter lies in a coma, her husband dies of a heart attack.
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Bechdel’s graphic memoir explores ties with her closeted father, who apparently commits suicide shortly after she comes out.
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The recipe for a witty, unbelievably resilient Cupcake: Mix drug addiction, prostitution, rape, and homelessness. Add death of a parent and miscarriage.
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It’s the 1990s: Sierra Leone is mired in a brutal civil war, and 12-year-old Beah is a brainwashed child soldier who lives through it.
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In this graphic memoir, the New Yorker cartoonist helps her elderly parents navigate the aging process while reflecting on their lives.
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His tale begins with a genealogy TV show on which he hopes to learn about his grandfather, and ends with revelations about his abusive father.