With each new piece Febos bends time. As she explores her past, recalling her brother’s struggles with mental health or her family’s trip to Egypt to visit her sea-captain father, she builds on the story of her fraying relationship with Amaia, with each essay serving as a foundation for the next ... For me, some of her most resonant passages come in the first essay, 'The Book of Hours.' Shifting through different parts of her life, Febos describes the shelter she has always taken in stories ... No subject is off-limits to Febos. She authorizes her reader to be braver, to dig deeper into their own secrets and to research those secrets in history. It is the act of keeping secrets that is dangerous, not the act of telling them. Confession is freedom. In combining research with her narrative, Febos is staking claim to her own existence.
The essays leap back and forth in time, overlapping to create a Venn diagram that gradually reveals a complete picture. At the point where the essays meet sits Febos herself, a woman willing to confront challenging questions about her life with openness and honesty ... What is most striking about this collection is Febos’ ability to hold many moments of her own life in conversation ... Febos’ writing is unflinching, and her willingness to delve into her darkest corners avoids becoming overwhelming only because she handles it with strength and delicacy. Abandon Me finds the universal in her own story and taps into many people’s fears, pushing the reader to question what they might abandon themselves to or let themselves abandon.
Febos invites readers to examine the contents of her life. Alcoholism, drug addiction, desire, dependency, she fearlessly lays them out before us and probes them with the analytic eye of a diagnostician. And nothing does she dissect more painstakingly nor with more honesty than love ... This technique of braiding together disparate stories with other material is one Febos employs throughout, but not always successfully...in places, her detours are distracting and the thread wending its way back to her principal narrative doesn’t hold ... That said, Abandon Me has much to recommend it: candor, a tone blessedly free of self-pity, and, for all those who ever flipped over the shiny side of love’s bright coin and discovered dross, hope.