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“You can tear a thing apart and tape it back together,” writes Jeannine Ouellette, “and it will still be torn and whole. There is no other way.” In her fiercely beautiful memoir, Ouellette recollects fragments of her life and arranges them elliptically in order to see each piece as torn and whole, as something more than itself. Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lak “You can tear a thing apart and tape it back together,” writes Jeannine Ouellette, “and it will still be torn and whole. There is no other way.” In her fiercely beautiful memoir, Ouellette recollects fragments of her life and arranges them elliptically in order to see each piece as torn and whole, as something more than itself. Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lake Superior and Casper Mountain, between her stepfather’s groping and her mother’s erratic behavior, Ouellette lives for the day she can become a mother herself, and create her own sheltering family. What she does not know is how the visceral reality of birth and motherhood will pull her back into the body she long ago abandoned, revealing new layers of pain and desire, and forcing her to choose between her idealistic vision of perfect marriage and motherhood and the birthright of her own flesh, unruly and alive. This is a story about the tenacity of family roots, the formidable undertow of trauma, and the rebellious and persistent yearning of human beings for love from each other. A textured remembrance of a traumatic childhood that also offers affecting moments of beauty. ~Kirkus (starred review) I love this book and am grateful it is in the world. ~Dorothy Allison, New York Times bestselling author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller Simply beautiful. Precisely imagined, poetically structured, compelling, and vivid. ~Joyce Carol Oates Jeannine Ouellette’s memoir glows with incandescent storytelling centered around memories, motherhood, and resilience. The Part That Burns proves that life isn’t lived in a linear way. Girlhood and womanhood can exist simultaneously, our former selves meeting our present selves. Ouellette’s writing is ablaze with a burnished beauty.” ~Michele Filgate, editor of What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About Vital, full of energy and wisdom, Jeannine Ouellette's memoir crackles with excitement. From the shores of Lake Superior to the mountains of Wyoming to the banks of the Mississippi River, this is a story of American migration—not just of families but of spirits. I loved the brave little girl at the heart of this story, so will you." ~Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl With a poet's voice and an uncanny knack for mining memory, Ouellette's memoir-in-fragments evokes pain and beauty in equal measure. Ouellette understands the elliptical nature of memory, the way years and experience can transform our understanding of the things we did as children and the things that were done to us. She loops back and forth in time to the same seminal experiences, adding layers of depth and understanding, and in so doing shows us how her wild determination to overcome the trauma of her childhood results in a life lived on her own terms. Full of love, loss, and hard-won redemption, The Part That Burns is a fiercely beautiful memoir. ~Alison McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Opposite of Fate and Someday. A writer with an extraordinary gift for prose that's complex, imagistic, and startling. ~Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows At turns tender and devastating, these essays are finely carved vignettes that, laid together, form a powerful portrait of one woman's path from hard girlhood to motherhood, the grace and mettle it takes not only to survive but to flourish. ~Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me and Girlhood Powerful and urgent, this is truly a book for our time: It teases beauty out of ugliness; it shows the courage of everyday survival; it creates wholeness out of fragments. With her gorgeous and precise prose, Ouellette shows that when faced with abuse we can do more than merely endure – we can fight back, we can flourish, we can thrive. ~Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences In The Part that Burns, Jeannine Ouellette has gifted an entrancing and courageous story to those who have ever felt forced to silence memories of childhood sexual abuse. She is a child, searching wild, unending landscapes for doorways to other dimensions of understanding and safety. She is a young wife, then a young mother, hypnotically looping back again and again to make sense of the memories that won’t let her go. Like lacy tumbleweeds finally uprooted and taking to air, this too is a story of flight. Her flight on black-as-space country roads; her flight to reach a faraway mother figure who once said she cared; and the flight of her deepest-down words, finally taking to air for those who must hear them. This is a story about giving voice to all the pieces of one’s life, rendered with devastating beauty, heart, and artistry. ~ Diane Zinna, author of The All-Night Sun


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“You can tear a thing apart and tape it back together,” writes Jeannine Ouellette, “and it will still be torn and whole. There is no other way.” In her fiercely beautiful memoir, Ouellette recollects fragments of her life and arranges them elliptically in order to see each piece as torn and whole, as something more than itself. Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lak “You can tear a thing apart and tape it back together,” writes Jeannine Ouellette, “and it will still be torn and whole. There is no other way.” In her fiercely beautiful memoir, Ouellette recollects fragments of her life and arranges them elliptically in order to see each piece as torn and whole, as something more than itself. Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lake Superior and Casper Mountain, between her stepfather’s groping and her mother’s erratic behavior, Ouellette lives for the day she can become a mother herself, and create her own sheltering family. What she does not know is how the visceral reality of birth and motherhood will pull her back into the body she long ago abandoned, revealing new layers of pain and desire, and forcing her to choose between her idealistic vision of perfect marriage and motherhood and the birthright of her own flesh, unruly and alive. This is a story about the tenacity of family roots, the formidable undertow of trauma, and the rebellious and persistent yearning of human beings for love from each other. A textured remembrance of a traumatic childhood that also offers affecting moments of beauty. ~Kirkus (starred review) I love this book and am grateful it is in the world. ~Dorothy Allison, New York Times bestselling author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller Simply beautiful. Precisely imagined, poetically structured, compelling, and vivid. ~Joyce Carol Oates Jeannine Ouellette’s memoir glows with incandescent storytelling centered around memories, motherhood, and resilience. The Part That Burns proves that life isn’t lived in a linear way. Girlhood and womanhood can exist simultaneously, our former selves meeting our present selves. Ouellette’s writing is ablaze with a burnished beauty.” ~Michele Filgate, editor of What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About Vital, full of energy and wisdom, Jeannine Ouellette's memoir crackles with excitement. From the shores of Lake Superior to the mountains of Wyoming to the banks of the Mississippi River, this is a story of American migration—not just of families but of spirits. I loved the brave little girl at the heart of this story, so will you." ~Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl With a poet's voice and an uncanny knack for mining memory, Ouellette's memoir-in-fragments evokes pain and beauty in equal measure. Ouellette understands the elliptical nature of memory, the way years and experience can transform our understanding of the things we did as children and the things that were done to us. She loops back and forth in time to the same seminal experiences, adding layers of depth and understanding, and in so doing shows us how her wild determination to overcome the trauma of her childhood results in a life lived on her own terms. Full of love, loss, and hard-won redemption, The Part That Burns is a fiercely beautiful memoir. ~Alison McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Opposite of Fate and Someday. A writer with an extraordinary gift for prose that's complex, imagistic, and startling. ~Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows At turns tender and devastating, these essays are finely carved vignettes that, laid together, form a powerful portrait of one woman's path from hard girlhood to motherhood, the grace and mettle it takes not only to survive but to flourish. ~Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me and Girlhood Powerful and urgent, this is truly a book for our time: It teases beauty out of ugliness; it shows the courage of everyday survival; it creates wholeness out of fragments. With her gorgeous and precise prose, Ouellette shows that when faced with abuse we can do more than merely endure – we can fight back, we can flourish, we can thrive. ~Sue William Silverman, author of How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences In The Part that Burns, Jeannine Ouellette has gifted an entrancing and courageous story to those who have ever felt forced to silence memories of childhood sexual abuse. She is a child, searching wild, unending landscapes for doorways to other dimensions of understanding and safety. She is a young wife, then a young mother, hypnotically looping back again and again to make sense of the memories that won’t let her go. Like lacy tumbleweeds finally uprooted and taking to air, this too is a story of flight. Her flight on black-as-space country roads; her flight to reach a faraway mother figure who once said she cared; and the flight of her deepest-down words, finally taking to air for those who must hear them. This is a story about giving voice to all the pieces of one’s life, rendered with devastating beauty, heart, and artistry. ~ Diane Zinna, author of The All-Night Sun

30 review for The Part That Burns

  1. 5 out of 5

    Billie Ann

    WOW something about this book grabbed me and hasn’t let me go. Original voice with a striking story of resilience and the mess that is life. Definitely recommending to my book group!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    What do you remember? What do you choose to forget? Author Jeannine Ouellette describes The Part That Burns as “a memoir in fragments.” That’s an accurate assessment of the way memory works. (Think back on your own childhood. Do you remember the scenes that had an emotional impact on you? Do you sense that the day-to-day memories have faded? Have you embellished or rewritten any scenes from your life?) Ouellette records the memorable scenes of her life as she remembers them, creating an exquisite What do you remember? What do you choose to forget? Author Jeannine Ouellette describes The Part That Burns as “a memoir in fragments.” That’s an accurate assessment of the way memory works. (Think back on your own childhood. Do you remember the scenes that had an emotional impact on you? Do you sense that the day-to-day memories have faded? Have you embellished or rewritten any scenes from your life?) Ouellette records the memorable scenes of her life as she remembers them, creating an exquisite patchwork of people, places, and dogs. Her family includes Mama, a younger sister named Rachel, Daddy Jack, a step-dad named Mafia, several boyfriends, a husband, and a daughter. Her family travels from Duluth to Wyoming to other locations, and she starts her story with the family dogs and the memories they bring up. The dogs, the daddies, and her shifting relationships with Mama and Rachel are all part of a time-line that shifts back and forth as she remembers new levels of misunderstanding and abuse. Readers will appreciate that as the story goes deeper as we watch her cope with the dysfunction caused by poverty, an unstable mother, shifting father figures, sexual frustrations, and the love her daughter brings. The author writes in vivid poetic prose. Talking about her daughter Sophie, Ouellette says: Maybe healing, when it happens, is the result of a quantum entanglement, the swirling of a thousand winds. Maybe it comes when you give your daughter your own heart like another stuffed toy she will drag with her everywhere, clenching it in her baby fists whenever she screams in fear or sadness or pain, soaring through the air with it as she jumps from a swing at the highest possible point in the July sky, stuffing it into her backpack as she skulks off to high school on a bad day, locking herself away with it, broken, when her first love leaves her. The love she never felt from her parents blossoms as she cares for her daughter. No one is perfect, of course. “Sometimes Sophie bites.” Like life, an astute reader might say. Life is a series of opposites, a fact the author confirms when she states, “The part that burns is the part that glows.” Good and bad, power and weakness, courage and fear all compete for attention. The conclusion, written by the author and her daughter in alternating voices, confirms that opposites not only exist but also attract one another. Life is complex, and her beautifully rendered story confirms this. It’s a short, immediate, and powerful account of coming to terms with what life has dealt you and how you handle it. Both Jeannine Ouellette and her daughter Lillian Ouellette-Howitz are authors worth watching. The book will be released in February of 2021 by Split Lip Press, but good literary citizens can pre-order, which is a boost for the author and the publisher. Story Circle Book Reviews thanks B. Lynn Goodwin for this review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alison Wisdom

    Elegant and devastating, THE PART THAT BURNS is as tender as a bruise but with all the hope and beauty that comes with the slow process of healing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill Myers

    In the quiet of my home, while reading this book, I found myself talking to it. I'd occasionally surprise myself when hearing my voice say, "noooo" or "wow" or when I'd erupt into a shout of laughter or a groan of dismay. In short, it transported me. It transported me with visceral and concise language that allowed the stories to unspool themselves into my mind's eye. Also, its clarity of experience and the craft of empathy transported me into that space that is most tender near the bone, where o In the quiet of my home, while reading this book, I found myself talking to it. I'd occasionally surprise myself when hearing my voice say, "noooo" or "wow" or when I'd erupt into a shout of laughter or a groan of dismay. In short, it transported me. It transported me with visceral and concise language that allowed the stories to unspool themselves into my mind's eye. Also, its clarity of experience and the craft of empathy transported me into that space that is most tender near the bone, where our humanity can both bind and betray us to each other. This book is beautiful, enrapturing, and a powerful hymn to survival surrendering itself to blossoming.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    What an extraordinary, unexpected delight. I was stunned by the precision of detail and voice in this fractured memoir. Characters are deftly, tenderly, rendered, yet Ouellette's attention also smolders, eviscerates. These are stories felt deep in the body, and will remain with me for a long time. What an extraordinary, unexpected delight. I was stunned by the precision of detail and voice in this fractured memoir. Characters are deftly, tenderly, rendered, yet Ouellette's attention also smolders, eviscerates. These are stories felt deep in the body, and will remain with me for a long time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eva Wolfie

    Lines from this book keep popping into my head. Little reminders! Little calls to action and healing and vulnerability! Ouellette's The Part That Burns is urgent and expertly crafted. Her honest depiction of hurt and healing left me thinking of the buddhist meditative practice of tonglen, as described by Pema Chodron, "when we see or feel suffering, we  breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it... Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, lovingkindness, f Lines from this book keep popping into my head. Little reminders! Little calls to action and healing and vulnerability! Ouellette's The Part That Burns is urgent and expertly crafted. Her honest depiction of hurt and healing left me thinking of the buddhist meditative practice of tonglen, as described by Pema Chodron, "when we see or feel suffering, we  breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it... Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, lovingkindness, freshness—anything that encourages relaxation and openness.  So you’re training in softening, rather than tightening, your heart." Reading The Part That Burns brought me a real sense of hope and beauty and sorrow, and courage, too. I cannot wait to read whatever Jeannine Ouellette comes out with next. Thank you for sharing your story and prose with the world <3

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    ....Ouellette’s story is one of truth and beauty, full of lyrical language and images, and filled with moments of awe and wonder between Ouellette and her children. Read my full review at https://brevity.wordpress.com/2021/02... ....Ouellette’s story is one of truth and beauty, full of lyrical language and images, and filled with moments of awe and wonder between Ouellette and her children. Read my full review at https://brevity.wordpress.com/2021/02...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon Zurn

    The Part That Burns is stunning in its capacity to weave from a collection of "fragments" to a story so whole and quietly profound. While each chapter offers its own glimmering shard, there simultaneously forms a larger, even more brilliant picture of a person emerging from the broken pieces. I am transfixed. The Part That Burns is stunning in its capacity to weave from a collection of "fragments" to a story so whole and quietly profound. While each chapter offers its own glimmering shard, there simultaneously forms a larger, even more brilliant picture of a person emerging from the broken pieces. I am transfixed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Henning

    This clear-eyed memoir stands face-to-face with childhood trauma, yet transcends the most disturbing episodes to tell the story of survival, growth, acceptance, and notions of the cellular and intergenerational aspects of trauma. Amazingly, this is not a difficult read, but a beautiful direct account, narrated in progressive waves of awareness by a child, a 9th grader, a young woman and newlywed, a daughter, and eventually as a mother. The Part That Burns, "a memoir in fragments", offers vivid i This clear-eyed memoir stands face-to-face with childhood trauma, yet transcends the most disturbing episodes to tell the story of survival, growth, acceptance, and notions of the cellular and intergenerational aspects of trauma. Amazingly, this is not a difficult read, but a beautiful direct account, narrated in progressive waves of awareness by a child, a 9th grader, a young woman and newlywed, a daughter, and eventually as a mother. The Part That Burns, "a memoir in fragments", offers vivid images of the houses and yards that marked the passing ages, and of the fiery memories that ignite new responses with each visit.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie Swenson

    This book is exquisite. Ouellette gives us the stories of her early years between Minnesota and Wyoming, between homes and schools and family. The writing is stunningly beautiful. You want to read sentences over and over to let them soak in and stay for a good long time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Geri

    Jeannine Ouellette's memoir The Part That Burns shines like a prism of light and color. This fragmented/mosaic of stories is like a beautiful heirloom quilt lovingly stitched together reflecting the expert hand of its maker. Each essay, like squares of a beautiful quilt, are delicately woven together. This is a book to hold in your hands, carry in your heart, and absorb into your skin - your bones. The Part That Burns is a work of art to return to in awe and inspiration. Jeannine Ouellette's memoir The Part That Burns shines like a prism of light and color. This fragmented/mosaic of stories is like a beautiful heirloom quilt lovingly stitched together reflecting the expert hand of its maker. Each essay, like squares of a beautiful quilt, are delicately woven together. This is a book to hold in your hands, carry in your heart, and absorb into your skin - your bones. The Part That Burns is a work of art to return to in awe and inspiration.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Billie Hinton

    Jeannine Ouellette’s memoir in fragments, The Part That Burns, reads like a shattered mirror that the author reassembles as you go, pulled forward by writing that’s precise and beautiful both in its parts and as a whole. Often when I read I mark sentences that shine, soar, stop me in my tracks with their potency. A good book usually has a handful, a great book more than that. This book has so many it’s hard to pull them out. I searched for a line or two that I might share here, but find myself hi Jeannine Ouellette’s memoir in fragments, The Part That Burns, reads like a shattered mirror that the author reassembles as you go, pulled forward by writing that’s precise and beautiful both in its parts and as a whole. Often when I read I mark sentences that shine, soar, stop me in my tracks with their potency. A good book usually has a handful, a great book more than that. This book has so many it’s hard to pull them out. I searched for a line or two that I might share here, but find myself highlighting entire paragraphs. Beyond this, the fragmented structure Ouellette employs to tell this story is itself masterful and compelling. Ouellette spans the time between her own childhood and motherhood, sharing potent memories of herself as child, daughter, mother, and the places in between, as well as the intersections between all these selves. I think again of mirrors, the ones in the fun house at the fair, where you see many reflections from many angles, some distortions of who we are, some closer to reality, but all real in that place in time, from our perspective as we look at what we see in the panels around us. Make no mistake: this narrator’s voice is clear and true, and you’ll want to know where she goes next. You’ll hold your breath at times, and you’ll pull for her to reach her destinations safely. A story of childhood sexual abuse, a story of a girl who journeys and survives, eventually thrives, this is not the usual memoir with this subject at its core. It’s a map of the path this narrator took, not in sequence, but the way you would hear it if she told it to a friend, or a therapist, in remembered pieces, so you come to the whole almost by surprise, with a little gasp of wow as you see where she ends up. Very highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ethel Rohan

    "The part that burns also glows." Not since reading BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA have I felt so seen and moved and wowed. I'm sad and angry that Ouellette and I share a history of childhood sexual abuse, and more. I'm heartened and amazed by her resilience and brilliance, and the defiant, graceful beauty she's wrought from the brutal. Through its notable brevity, structure, prose, subtlety, nuance, layers, wisdom, and compassion, THE PART THAT BURNS is a master class in memoir, and living. I loved it. "The part that burns also glows." Not since reading BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA have I felt so seen and moved and wowed. I'm sad and angry that Ouellette and I share a history of childhood sexual abuse, and more. I'm heartened and amazed by her resilience and brilliance, and the defiant, graceful beauty she's wrought from the brutal. Through its notable brevity, structure, prose, subtlety, nuance, layers, wisdom, and compassion, THE PART THAT BURNS is a master class in memoir, and living. I loved it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tamidel

    You want to read this gorgeous, luminous memoir, as heart-breaking as it is redemptive. Told in fragments--like memory--some as clear and cutting as glass while others are as gauzy as dreams. Those told in the child Jeannie's voice have us rooting for her courageous spirit and grit. Others read as poetry, aching and beautiful. My first reading of this book was a compulsive straight-through. My second is slow to savor Ouellette's lyrical prose. Exquisite writing. You want to read this gorgeous, luminous memoir, as heart-breaking as it is redemptive. Told in fragments--like memory--some as clear and cutting as glass while others are as gauzy as dreams. Those told in the child Jeannie's voice have us rooting for her courageous spirit and grit. Others read as poetry, aching and beautiful. My first reading of this book was a compulsive straight-through. My second is slow to savor Ouellette's lyrical prose. Exquisite writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lang

    On page 1, Jeannine Ouellette says it herself: "Expectations can be slippery." When I start a new book, I wrestle with mine. Will I want to keep reading or will I have to work to get into the story? Will I connect with the narrator and want to know the ending or feel indifferent? As soon as I started reading The Part That Burns, I understood. This book would exceed my expectations--and I wasn't wrong. It's not a linear narrative but a memoir in fragments. Each essay or chapter is different, inte On page 1, Jeannine Ouellette says it herself: "Expectations can be slippery." When I start a new book, I wrestle with mine. Will I want to keep reading or will I have to work to get into the story? Will I connect with the narrator and want to know the ending or feel indifferent? As soon as I started reading The Part That Burns, I understood. This book would exceed my expectations--and I wasn't wrong. It's not a linear narrative but a memoir in fragments. Each essay or chapter is different, interesting, engaging like scattered pieces of a puzzle that the writer--and reader--are trying to put together. It's about a childhood wrought with abuse and rejection. It's about trauma and epigenetics, home and roots. It's about a girl who grows up to become a teenager who becomes a young woman who becomes a wife and a mother and every step of the way, she yearns for what we all yearn for: acceptance and love. Sounds simple, but it's not, especially for Jeannine, and page after page, I needed to know that she would find what she was looking for.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nanc

    Settle in for a slow read, relish the language and the bare but brutal truth of this memoir. This memoir, written in fragments, touches universal emotions and edges them with real life dogs, jackalopes, pregnancies, and fire lilies. The author and her daughter recall memories and retold stories from different points of view. Her method works and entices us with each essay. Open your heart, read, and savor each word.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leah Davis

    Jeannine Ouellette is a brave woman, but I think she might deny that. This is not a long book; in fact, I have the impression that it could have easily been twice the length that it is. "The Part That Burns" hopscotches through time in a loop of snapshots of the author's life and I have the feeling that each story she tells is carefully curated. Her writing is spare and rich at the same time. I appreciate (and even envy...) her ability to write prose that is saturated in poetry without seeming p Jeannine Ouellette is a brave woman, but I think she might deny that. This is not a long book; in fact, I have the impression that it could have easily been twice the length that it is. "The Part That Burns" hopscotches through time in a loop of snapshots of the author's life and I have the feeling that each story she tells is carefully curated. Her writing is spare and rich at the same time. I appreciate (and even envy...) her ability to write prose that is saturated in poetry without seeming pompous or self-important. It is obvious that these small stories have lived inside of her for years, writing and rewriting themselves, and that it is a great relief to them to finally be on the page. This is a difficult book to read. Or, I should say, this was a difficult book for *me* to read, but I suspect that will be the case for many readers, especially women. Ms. Ouellette - perhaps intentionally, perhaps unknowingly - has written a shared story, a woman's story. Sexual abuse, the awkwardness of youth, crazy mothers, unsatisfying sex, the loneliness of marriage, the fierce joy of motherhood: to say that the subject matter is relatable is an understatement. And so yeah, it's tough. Ms. Ouellette courageously dredges up from the muck of time and memory the kind of pain and shame and stale fear that I think most of us would happily leave buried. And still, the writing isn't pitiful or self-indulgent or whiny. It's a brave and self-confronting documentary: These things happened and here I am. I think I'll probably read it again.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nell Morningstar

    Ouellette's elegantly lyrical writing threads luminous fragments of memories into a chain of events exploring the devastating impact of abuse on a young girl, a young woman, and the adult life she eventually chooses to create. Driven by her own resilience, and her profound belief in and desire for love, we witness how it is possible to put the pieces of oneself back together. But the experiences cannot be erased, and seem to live on both within one's one body, and the children born from that bod Ouellette's elegantly lyrical writing threads luminous fragments of memories into a chain of events exploring the devastating impact of abuse on a young girl, a young woman, and the adult life she eventually chooses to create. Driven by her own resilience, and her profound belief in and desire for love, we witness how it is possible to put the pieces of oneself back together. But the experiences cannot be erased, and seem to live on both within one's one body, and the children born from that body. A challenging read in that Ouellette does not spare the truth of her life, and yet so rewarding in the final message - ultimately, love does matter, and love does heal.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Naithani

    Jeannine's memoir is stunning. Raw, heartfelt, and powerful. The fragmented stories of her painful childhood are woven together beautifully with stories of her own motherhood and transition into adulthood. She is both resilient and emotionally brave. Her ability to be open and truthful about her journey to, what seems to be, her whole real-self is inspiring. With the scars and pain, can come a sense of hope and wholeness. I can't recommend this memoir enough, it is well worth reading and rereadi Jeannine's memoir is stunning. Raw, heartfelt, and powerful. The fragmented stories of her painful childhood are woven together beautifully with stories of her own motherhood and transition into adulthood. She is both resilient and emotionally brave. Her ability to be open and truthful about her journey to, what seems to be, her whole real-self is inspiring. With the scars and pain, can come a sense of hope and wholeness. I can't recommend this memoir enough, it is well worth reading and rereading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Francescajemm

    Honest, direct, and painful - the prose grabs you and won’t let go. A gripping exploration of trauma and redemption.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather Frese

    There are some books that I can tell from the start are going to be ones that I go back to, books that resonate in a way that's difficult to put into words -- this is one of those books. The language and imagery are stunning, as is the structure; cracked open and put back together again into a beautiful, fractured whole. There are some books that I can tell from the start are going to be ones that I go back to, books that resonate in a way that's difficult to put into words -- this is one of those books. The language and imagery are stunning, as is the structure; cracked open and put back together again into a beautiful, fractured whole.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cecelia

    The Part That BurnsIntimate and searing, this book is a gift to the world, and a must-read, if there ever was one. The Part That BurnsIntimate and searing, this book is a gift to the world, and a must-read, if there ever was one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Juliana

    I agree with Dorothy Allison: I’m grateful that this book is in the world. It feels like a tapestry, something to fall into, with many voices interwoven: the author at different ages, even her daughter’s voice, but all draw you in and keep you reading to the last page. Highly recommended!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Tankersley

    I'm a little biased (maybe) because I work for the press that's publishing Jeannine's book. But Split/Lip wouldn't be putting it out if it wasn't phenomenal. I am stunned by what Jeannine has accomplished here, and I'm so proud to have done my little part in putting this book out into the world. Pick up a copy as soon as you can. You won't regret it. I'm a little biased (maybe) because I work for the press that's publishing Jeannine's book. But Split/Lip wouldn't be putting it out if it wasn't phenomenal. I am stunned by what Jeannine has accomplished here, and I'm so proud to have done my little part in putting this book out into the world. Pick up a copy as soon as you can. You won't regret it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Slice

    Beautiful and haunting. Has been on my mind since finishing. Perfectly captures the chaos and tenderness of early trauma. (provided an arc for review)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Krystyna

    Like the fire lilies that “are coaxed open only by smoke,” this memoir illuminates how extraordinary life – our emotions, our decisions, our memories – can be. Emerging from this collage of stories feels like waking up from a vivid dream. I felt like I was right alongside the author, experiencing each vignette of her memory…beautiful and so purely human. She activates all the senses – recalling the scent of the air in Wyoming, and later in Cuernavaca; the flavors of different places and times; mu Like the fire lilies that “are coaxed open only by smoke,” this memoir illuminates how extraordinary life – our emotions, our decisions, our memories – can be. Emerging from this collage of stories feels like waking up from a vivid dream. I felt like I was right alongside the author, experiencing each vignette of her memory…beautiful and so purely human. She activates all the senses – recalling the scent of the air in Wyoming, and later in Cuernavaca; the flavors of different places and times; music that marks the turn of new years – and never leaves the reader wondering how it felt to experience these remarkable and often painful moments of life. Emerging from this dream state, I am left feeling introspective and wanting, already, to reread this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sari Fordham

    This memoir is gorgeous and heartbreaking and startling, and I'm going to be thinking about it for a long time. This memoir is gorgeous and heartbreaking and startling, and I'm going to be thinking about it for a long time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I finished this fabulous memoir wishing I knew myself as well as Jeannine Oullette and her daughter know her. I wish for that degree of honesty and that ability to make sense out of memory. I wish that I had written my story. So beautifully written.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Olila

    The Part That Burns shook me up. Ms. O does the heavy lifting. Speaking bare, merciless bones in tender, vulnerable, clear prose -- what must be said, must be heard, must be known. I closed the book and wept.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angie Wright

    Reading The Part That Burns by the brilliant Jeannine Ouellette is like being pulled into a dream, or a song. It’s a hard story told with open-heartedness and generosity, without melodrama or manipulation, about the person she once was and is still becoming. “Mom taught us that when small things go missing— her favorite hairbrush with its yellowed bristles, her wide black comb, her silver sewing scissors—you look for those things until you find them. “Look harder,” she would say. “Use your godda Reading The Part That Burns by the brilliant Jeannine Ouellette is like being pulled into a dream, or a song. It’s a hard story told with open-heartedness and generosity, without melodrama or manipulation, about the person she once was and is still becoming. “Mom taught us that when small things go missing— her favorite hairbrush with its yellowed bristles, her wide black comb, her silver sewing scissors—you look for those things until you find them. “Look harder,” she would say. “Use your goddamn eyes.” But when big things go missing—men, houses, dogs—you don’t ask questions. You don’t mention it again. You simply move on.” She learns that it’s no use, you can’t move on without looking back. In each chapter we move ahead with her and circle back, perhaps not a circle but a spiral, each time seeing something new and ending up at somewhere new, life moving forward and backward, in and out, around and through. “It takes so long to become anything. Especially yourself,” Ouellette writes. You can’t help but care. You can’t resist the enchantment of Ouellette’s story-telling. You can’t help but love the little girl searching for portals amid the tumbleweeds of the desert. The ninth-grade girl writing an autobiography filled with perfect lies about her perfect life. The sixteen-year-old girl, kicked out of her home for the last time before she goes to foster care, traveling alone from Minnesota to Mexico to look for the one person who promised she would always have a home. The young wife who lets her husband preen, believing he brought her to orgasm nine times in a row—lucky nine! The young woman working to bring an old house back to life, trying to create the stability she never had. A mother herself, still facing the hard truth that her own mother will not come through for her, not in the way she comes through for her dog, never in the way the narrator come throughs for her own. There is no moral of the story, no easy answers, just someone living her life, meeting her selves with tenderness and curiosity, her heart open to herself and to us. She writes, “All along, I would give Sophie the best thing I had, other than my love, which was my words.” Jeannine Ouellette has done the same for us, giving us her the best thing she has, her words.

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