Emilie Pine speaks to the events that have marked her life—those emotional disruptions for which our society has no adequate language, at once bittersweet, clandestine, and ordinary. She writes about the unspeakable grief of infertility, caring for an alcoholic parent, taboos around female bodies and female pain, sexual violence and violence against the self. This is the story of one woman, and of all women.
The story is relayed with a matter-of-fact style suggesting Pine’s need to keep a distance from her father. It also makes the casual childhood cruelties, mentioned in equally casual fashion, all the more arresting ... By depriving herself of self-pity, Pine gives the reader space to experience real empathy ... Such is the strength of the opening essay that, were it followed by 150 blank pages, this book would still be worth buying. As it turns out, the second inclusion, From the Baby Years, is equally strong — I cried twice reading it ... Pine is fascinating and relatable throughout. As soon as you think you know her, she reveals another side. In the best testament of a good book, I have already recommended this to several people.
...extraordinary ... Pine’s short, gleamingly instructive book, both memoir and psychological exploration, transcends the trope of the misery-as-therapy narrative so radically that it becomes something else entirely ... It is disarmingly bold in its candour, discussing, head-on, taboo subjects such as alcoholism, addiction, infertility and menstruation ... Pine is unapologetic about her confessions while at the same time never underestimating the painful exactitude involved in bringing them forth ... In every piece Pine is simultaneously detached and vitally present ... This exposure of herself and of a misogyny that is identifiable and endemic, is, to put it mildly, brave, even reckless.
...unsparing ... there is no self-pity or justification in its calm excavation of the lasting damage caused to a family by addiction ... The second essay, From the Baby Years, charts the gruelling process of trying and failing to conceive and the pain of miscarriage. The mood is different and it is perhaps more introspective yet equally raw and harrowing ... I’ve never read anything quite like these essays. Pine’s fluent intelligence flows through each question, each dilemma, in its own inimitable way. It’s the kind of book you want to give to everyone.