A Lyric Memoir
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393635225, 144pp.
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
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Joshua Mensch's devastating lyric memoir, Because, explores with extraordinary literary power and sophistication the toxic power of adults who prey on the children in their care. Its story begins when Mensch is ten years old and first meets Don, the charming director of a youth wilderness camp and a lifelong friend of his parents. What follows is a harrowing account of sexual and psychological abuse, told from the evolving perspective of a child entering adolescence. Because unfolds through a series of precise, jewel-like scenes that render the shifting and uncertain landscapes of childhood memory with vividness and precision. Its swift, convincing music, propelled by the powerful litany of the word "because," builds a heartbreaking tale of genuine power whose characters are as complex and fully realized as those in a novel. An unflinching take on the vulnerabilities and dangers of childhood, Because succumbs neither to self-pity nor platitudes, but instead finds consolation in the healing power of its own narrative act.