We only learned about our father’s girlfriend after he became deathly ill and lay in a coma 120 miles from our home. Overhearing the nurse tell Linda–since I was nine I had called my mom by her first name–about the girlfriend who came in almost every day to visit him when we weren’t there confirmed that the last moment of normal had passed us by without our realizing it. Up to then our family had unhappily coexisted with Dad flying jumbo jets to Asia while we lived in Montana. We finally came together to see Dad through his illness, but he was once again absent from a major family event–unable to join us from his comatose state. This is the moment when our normal existence tilted. Dad recovered, but the marriage ailed, as did Linda, with cancer. Our family began to move down an entirely different path with silver linings we wouldn’t see for many years.
In this candid and compassionate memoir which recently won a Gold Award in The Wishing Shelf Book Award, Nicole Harkin describes with an Impressionist’s fine eye the evolution of a family that is quirky, independent, uniquely supportive, peculiarly loving and, most of all, marvelously human.
I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Memoirs are a particular favourite of mine, especially if they are quirky, emotional and insightful. I am glad to say that Tilting is all of these and more. Nicole Harkin gives us a view of a dysfunctional family, but one that at the same time is bound by familial ties, giving it a hidden core based on love and support. It is an emotional read, making me sad and reflective and yet at the same time happy at the authors determination to rise above the actions of a largely absent father. No family is perfect and this is what gives the book its emotional depth, we can all look back and think of issues with our siblings, for some with their parents and identify in some little way with the author. She draws you in and opens up her childhood to you and the ramifications it had on her life as an adult.
It is a special story and one that I found hard to down, because the author drew me into her life and that of her family, their very different personalities and reactions to an unconventional childhood make fascinating reading. What I loved the most, is the author’s honesty and how she explores her own actions and reactions to her parents and their dysfunctional style of parenting. Its quite a brave thing to do, to allow the reader into your world, but she does so with humanity, honesty and warmth.
Tilting is well worth a read if you like memoirs, it ticks all the boxes. She details the gradual dissolution of her family, keeping the emotional beat throughout. The writer is taking you on a journey as you read their book and Nicole Harkin never allows the story to stall. It tells you why she had to leave and why she was drawn back, family is never perfect, but they are yours and she understands that.
About the author
Nicole Harkin currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children. She works as a writer and family photographer. As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism. Her work can be found in Thought Collection and you are here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She is currently working on mystery set in Berlin. Her photography can be seen at www.nicoleharkin.com.