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The story of the author confronting the lifelong impact of her mother’s murder...

“It’s too beautiful—the fingerprints with the alphabet in their cores, text and body and text, Rolland fighting through the law, me fighting through my words, my mother’s killer found through the power of language and grief,” writes the author, whose work as a teacher of creative writing shines through on every page. While the last third of the book follows the ensuing trial, much of the narrative involves Ervin’s psychological and emotional reactions and broader explorations of physical, sexual, and emotional violence, especially “how we shift blame to women for the violence against their own bodies.” Throughout, the author’s investigations of the concept of victimhood are insightful and urgent, and she demonstrates how “so many victims are silenced and excluded from the process” of punishing the perpetrators. Ervin laces the poetic text with unforgettable moments of startling, shattering honesty, many of which feel impossible to witness. This is the genius of the author’s prose and what makes this book remarkable: Ervin’s unflinchingly brutal gaze, combined with her insistence on facing the worst parts of her past, make it equally impossible for us to look away.

A devastating memoir about living with—and dying from—gender-based violence.

Starred Kirkus Review

"Melding true crime with memoir, Ervin reminds us of what happens when we conflate people with the transgressions committed against them—the collateral damage we inflict when we turn human beings into moral allegory . . . A powerful treatise on love and loss, on mothers and daughters, but it is also a warning to all of us who consume true crime."

—The New York Times Book Review

"Poet and essayist Ervin grapples in her moving debut memoir with the emotional damage caused by a parent’s violent death. . . . In lucid prose, Ervin unflinchingly documents her grief and untangles how her mother’s murder impacted myriad aspects of her life. This will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the last page."

 Publishers Weekly

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