"I didn’t understand it at the time, but Mom kept us all tightly under control to control her own anxiety."

Thomas Wolfe famously wrote that you can't go home again. But Scott, who seeks to understand generations of marital tension, community isolation, and hurtful parenting, does. She goes home to Maine, where her mother's family has lived for seven generations, hoping to catalyze comprehension of herself and her cold, distant mother. Both mother and grandmother were educated and accomplished, but the outside shine did not reflect the inside tarnish from depression, hypercriticism, and social isolation. Always prescient, even as a child, Scott knew something was wrong.

Scott travels to India to understand her mother's upbringing as the daughter of neglectful Baptist missionaries in a village ruled by the caste system. She also ponders her white isolation in Chicago's South Side in the late 1940s. She scrutinizes family history via letters, conversations, and historical records, searching for answers about her inability to show love. A combination of emotional acuity and advanced theological and psychological degrees allows liberating insights into how her ancestors' isolation, lack of community, and the struggle for control created islands of self-imposed misery.

Writing a memoir is difficult, especially when weaving together three generations. Scott succeeds admirably by supporting the present with the past, chapter by chapter. For example, a painful chapter starring Scott as a Christian girl isolated in an all-Jewish high school follows well-described scenes of her mother's wretched experience in a Christian boarding school in India, where caning was common. Another chapter exposes her missionary grandmother's terrible, friendless survival in an Indian culture so very different from Maine's. Scott's brave quest for a place where she belongs emotionally reveals remarkable empathy. Piercing insights from a lifetime of questioning and education take her from isolation to connection, from emptiness to fullness. Her skillfully wrought journey to break the cycle of her family's generational dysfunction is complete.

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