November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey reflects on the build-up to and aftermath of her mother’s brutal murder in her stirring memoir. Trethewey was just 19 years old when her former stepfather killed her mother in a fit of horrific rage. In Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, Trethewey steps back from this moment to unveil all that came before it, combing through her mother’s history in lush and vivid prose. She dissects her own childhood in an attempt to place the traumatic event in the bigger context of her own life. In doing so, the former U.S. poet laureate investigates the intersections of racism, grief and legacy, paying special attention to the language we use to describe it all.

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