They Left Us Everything Plum Johnson, 2015

Frankly, Plum Johnson’s pettiness intruded on my enjoyment of the book. Perhaps her mother’s letters will anchor another memoire, since “They Left Us Everything” offered only a teasing glimpse of the woman, whom Plum resented but came to appreciate through de-cluttering the family home and herself.

I also didn’t find the book humorous, one of the labels jurors for The Charles Taylor non-fiction prize gave to the 2015 winner.

That said, the memoire touched me because of how the narrative often echoed my own clearing-out experience after the death of my mother at 90. Even now, I’m reluctant to deal with boxes of her papers. Perhaps Plum’s approach to organizing and preserving such records will help me move forward, so I can leave to my children the task of deciding what to keep.                                                                                                                                                7/10


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