Thank You to Bloomsbury USA for providing me with an advanced copy of Melissa Febos’ memoir, Abandon Me, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- In her memoir, Abandon Me, Melissa Febos explores a range of topics; including a complicated family history, her Native American heritage, a heroin addiction, and her difficulty in fully committing to romantic relationships.
LIKE– Abandon Me is lyrical and beautifully written. Febos weaves literature and historical information, into her personal story. Abandon Me is structured in a non-lineal style, and Febos writes in what I can best describe as a controlled stream-of-conscious. Her writing feels loose and free-form, but it never seems careless or without intention. Initially, I may not have know where she was heading with a thought, but it always came to a powerful conclusion. Brilliant storytelling.
Febos takes a hard look at her family, specifically her fathers, exploring the long term impact they had on her life. Her birth father, was a addict, who abandoned her as a toddler. Febos reconnected with him and meets family members from his side, as an adult. As a child, her mother remarried a sea captain, a loving man, who would go on to formally adopt Febos. As a sea captain, he would leave for months at a time, creating a series of mini abandonments in Febos’ life. As an adult, Febos admits to putting herself in the position of being the one who always leaves first in a relationship, and this becomes complicated when she meets a woman ( a married and emotionally abusive woman), whom she loves. Along with this difficulty in forming attachments with other people, Febos dulls her pain with drugs. She is able to hide her drug abuse, through managing to keep the other aspects of her life together. Febos is constantly trying to mask her pain and fears.
Febos also explores her Native American heritage and what it means to be part of a people who were systematically decimated, and who currently have high rates of poverty and drug abuse. Her Native American heritage is from her brith father, and although Febos was not raised on a reservation or with much knowledge of this part of her heritage, she looks at how it has impacted her father, and by extension, her.
DISLIKE– Not so much a dislike, but I thought that it warranted mentioning that it took me about fifteen pages to fully engage in Abandon Me. It took me a bit to become comfortable with Febos’ style of writing, rather than it be writing that immediately grabbed my attention. However, after those initial pages, I was hooked.
RECOMMEND– Yes. Febos is a gifted writer with a unique voice and perspective. Abandon Me is richly layered and engaging. It would be a great pick for a book club or class discussion.