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Mother, Stranger (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Cris Beam , The Atavist
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

Author Cris Beam left her mother’s home at age 14, driven out by a suburban household of hidden chaos and mental illness. Her mother, a descendant of William Faulkner, told neighbors and family that her daughter had died. The two never saw each other again. Nearly twenty-five years later, after building her own family and happy home life, a lawyer called to say her mother was dead. In this story about the fragility of memory and the complexity of family, Beam decides to look back at her own dark history, and for the secret to her mother’s madness.

Praise for Mother, Stranger:
"I was drawn into this compelling book fast and deep. It’s full of Beam’s usual vitality, and yet almost unbelievably sad. In her first book, in one unsettling paragraph, Cris Beam contemplates how being abandoned by her mother shaped her relationship with the transgirl she fostered. I’ve never known the rest of the backstory, and now that I do, it’s a stake to the heart." —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, winner of the National Book Award

“I read Cris Beam's Mother, Stranger in one sitting, riveted in place, unable to take my eyes of her words. What shines through this wrenching and clear-eyed examination of a child caught inside her mother’s madness is the writer's courage, her wisdom, her unshakable compassion.” —Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals

Cris Beam is an author and professor in New York City. She is the author of the young adult novel I Am J, as well as Transparent, a nonfiction book that covers seven years in the lives of four transgender teenagers, which won the Lambda Literary Award for best transgender book in 2008 and was a Stonewall Honor book. She is currently at work on a book about the foster-care system.


Product Details

  • File Size: 128 KB
  • Print Length: 42 pages
  • Publisher: The Atavist (January 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0071MLLGM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,218 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I remember a professor in a comparative literature class (I got an A-) lecturing that reading Faulkner is removing screen after screen to reveal reality layer by layer.

Cris Beam claims to be coat-tail relation to the Southern novelist - he was maternal great-uncle several generations removed - and reading her neo-gothic memoir is a like reading a Faulkner story. It takes a lot of work to get close to what even begins to feel like reality.

Beam's memory of childhood is a recollection of growing up in a single-parent family broken by physical and emotional abuse, occasional episodes violent and psychotic. Her mother, doting at times was more often a screaming banshee throwing dishes and dishing out guilt as daily fare.

Beam left home at 14, running away from the chaos and her mother's rage to move in with her father. Mother and daughter never saw one another again. For Bream leaving home was the ultimate guilt trip, an act of willful abandonment. "I had chosen to amputate my mom and without my lifeblood she would be too sick to love me again."

Three years ago Beam was 36 when she got a call from a lawyer telling her that her mother had died. The lawyer said it had taken nearly three months to locate her. The call triggered in Beam a need to unlayer the past in order to move forward. "I had never known how to talk to my mother but I wanted to say good-bye."

How reliable is memory when recall is wrapped in so much emotion and pain? Beam struggled with demons of her own, often suicidal and depressed, she has what she calls her own "psychic breaks."

Reading, I wondered throughout what reality would look life if both mother and daughter had written their own memoirs. How alike, how different would each version of the truth be?
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
MOTHER STRANGER, Cris Beam's memoir of the mentally ill mother whose home she left at age fourteen, is powerful, beautifully written, and brings both sophisticated understanding and large-hearted wisdom to issues of sexual abuse, trauma, and memory. Beam braids a poet's gifts of language and metaphor, a novelist's grasp of the single scene that can illuminate years of a relationship, and a journalist's ability to demonstrate how one person's story connects to all of ours, into a rope and lowers it down a well of loss and lies: the water Beam hauls up is dark and icy, but it quenches a thirst for truth. This book is gorgeous, haunting, tender, brave, and sad: it'll take you two hours to read it, and you'll be the richer for having done so.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and heartbreaking January 31, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to say that this was one of the best Kindle Singles I've read. It was totally engrossing and felt complete when it was finished. The writing is graceful and the story is compelling.

The subject matter is grim, but the author is far from maudlin or whining. She is seeking truth, the good and the bad. Unfortunately, her search will probably last a lifetime. What is wonderful about this essay is that it shows that a person can come through a hellish childhood and still be an awesome adult. The road isn't easy and is often dark and filled with guilt and fear, but it is possible to be a good person is spite of horrible beginnings. I found that very hopeful and inspirational.

I found this KS to be very insightful, meaningful and absorbing. Once I started it I didn't stop until I finished it. I wish the author the best and she has my complete respect for telling her story honestly. Highly recommend!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written, spellbound February 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Best memoir I've ever read, if you can call it a memoir. It was hard to put down. Her writing style is magnificent. Her childhood was very confusing for her. It would be impossible for a child to make sense of a mother who could be such a different person at different times. Haunting book that stays with you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars texture, tenacity and compassion February 1, 2012
By Diana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I feel honored to have read Cris Beam's courageous account of her journey in and out of the wrestling ring with her mother - physically, emotionally, psychically, remembered and imagined. Her voice rings through with texture, tenacity and compassion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother, Stranger by Chris Beam March 4, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Chris Beam has written a memoir, "Mother, Stranger" that is sad and very heartbreaking due to her mother's mental illness and the impact that it has had on her life. Chris left home at age 14 to get away from her mother's crazy life and lies, and she never went home again. Her only sibling, her brother, also left when he turned 14, and returned to gather up some personal items when no one was home, and never returned.

This Kindle Single goes along very fast, because it is an intriguing story and the author's well-written memories and experiences are told first as her memories from childhood and then later on as an adult after learning more about her mother after she and her brother were notified that their mother had died.

I couldn't stop reading this until the end, and it is very bittersweet to read how the author feels now in her life about her mother and her brother as she still remembers her childhood with and without her mother. Chris Beam is related, by a couple of generations removed, to the author, William Faulkner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice for raw and honest emotion March 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has suffered at the hands of a mentally ill mother will connect deeply with this story. Cris' unflinching look at the love, anger, confusion, and loss of a person's most primary relationship is profound. She gives a voice to raw emotion and deep pain - examining with honesty the facets of a relationship that left a hole in her heart. It's a courageous look at the legacy of maternal dysfunction and very much worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Fair
Published 1 month ago by Joseph Tribull
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible
This book was horrible I hated it. It was so boring and I hated it. Worst book ever! Never read this book!
Published 3 months ago by Ellie Burnes
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 3 months ago by Sherri Hinke
2.0 out of 5 stars Really uneasy...
with a book classed as bio written from the point of view of an unstable fourteen year old. It is hard to know who really is at fault here, but there is no way the mother is given... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Douglas
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing
There were so many things left unsaid. I want to know about the supposed molestation. I want to know about the mom's life after the children left. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cheryl
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and heart wrenching
Maybe the author could have written a book on this subject instead of a novelette. It's sad that we can't get the father's side here because he refused to be quoted.,
Published 8 months ago by D. Stichick
1.0 out of 5 stars confusing
I never could make sense of it. It left you with a sense of confusion and total no ending to it.
Published 10 months ago by Ted
4.0 out of 5 stars Rough Read
The fact this is yet the second time I've returned to my initial review to do more editing tells me (a) I'm spending way too much time thinking about what I want to get across (b)... Read more
Published 10 months ago by BC
2.0 out of 5 stars Too short keep your money
While I know this was her story it didn't give enough details. Is there a book I should have read first?
Published 10 months ago by History lover
3.0 out of 5 stars short, but powerful.
Not sure what I had expected of this book, it's indeed short but has a way of pulling you in and even in such a short time, you still feel a connection with the characters. Read more
Published 10 months ago by mingkki
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