Monday, June 3, 2024

Love is a Burning Thing by Nina St. Pierre Book Review

About the Book:

A riveting memoir about a daughter’s investigation into the wirings of her loving, unpredictable mother: a woman who lived her life in pursuit of the divine, and who started two big fires, decades apart.
Ten years before Nina was born, her mother lit herself on fire in a dual suicide attempt. During her recovery in the burn-unit, a nurse initiated her into Transcendental Meditation. From that day on, her mother's pain became intertwined with the pursuit of enlightenment. 
Growing up, Nina longed for a normal life; instead, she and her brother were at the whims of their mother, who chased ascension up and down the state of California, swapping out spiritual practices as often as apartments. When they finally settled at the foot of a mountain—reputed to be cosmic—in Northern California, Nina hoped life would stabilize. But after another fire, and a tragic fallout, she was forced to confront the shadow side of her mother's mystical narratives. With obsessive dedication, Nina began to knit together the truth that would eventually release her.

Love Is a Burning Thing, Nina interrogates what happens to those undiagnosed and unseen. This is a transfixing, moving portrait of a mother-daughter relationship that also examines mental health, stigma, poverty, and gender—and the role that spirituality plays within each. Nina’s writing skirts the mystical, untangles it, and ultimately illuminates it with brilliance.

My Review:

This book is a good example of a memoir as a woman tries to understand herself, her mother, and her very unstable childhood. I did not find it an uplifting memoir, even though St. Pierre is a capable writer. I ended up skimming some of it.

I do appreciate St. Pierre writing this memoir, however. I am amazed at her memory. I appreciate her insights on mental illness. There are many who might benefit from reading this account, being in similar situations. Nonetheless, this was a difficult book for me to read.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

About the Author:

Nina St. Pierre is a queer essayist and culture writer whose work has appeared in Elle, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Gossamer, Nylon, Outside, Columbia Journal, Bitch, Catapult, and more. She is a 2023 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Nonfiction Literature. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Rutgers-Camden. Photo © LaQuann Dawson

Dutton, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

No comments: