My Dead Parents
A young woman uncovers letters that make her reevaluate the story of her immigrant parents' romance and marriage under the long-reaching shadow of the USSR, leading her to the dark truth behind her father's death."As I've slowly gotten to know my parents at least a little better, have learned of their struggles, their successes, heartache, and loss, I have finally begun to accept and to love them, maybe not as my parents, not yet, but simply as people."In the wake of her alcoholic mother's death, Anya Yurchyshyn returned to her large, cluttered childhood home on Boston's Beacon Hill to sort through her parents' belongings. She didn't feel sad, rather she was relieved that her mother's decades-long battle with grueling depression and self-inflicted isolation were over. Sifting through old boxes and drawers, Anya discovered artifacts of a life, a love affair, and glamorous people that she barely recognized--yet, these people were her parents. Letters, photos of exotic locales, startling documents, and passionate letters revealed stark evidence of a hidden past that forced her to reconstruct and reimagine everything she'd ever known about her life and her family. She'd always assumed that her parents never loved each other, that her mother slowly drank herself to death after her father's mysterious death in the Ukraine, and that her father was an overbearing man devoid of compassion. How then, to explain the poetic, profound, and playful letters her father wrote, ones returned by her mother's deep words of love and humor. Part literary thriller, part detective story, My Dead Parents is the account of one woman's relentless quest to solve the tragic and complex mysteries of her past, and in so doing, to come more fully to terms with her life today.

My Dead Parents Details

TitleMy Dead Parents
Author
ReleaseMar 27th, 2018
PublisherCrown Publishing Group (NY)
ISBN-139780553447040
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography

My Dead Parents Review

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    Via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Ukraine sounded like a setting for a dark fairy tale that offered no magic or redemption, a place that had nothing to do with me.'It’s a strange sort of life for American born children with parents who come from other countries. The stories our parents share are nothing we can fully grasp, having never been at the mercy of losing our freedoms, yearning for a culture you had to leave behind, our only history in memories painted by our parents. I Via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Ukraine sounded like a setting for a dark fairy tale that offered no magic or redemption, a place that had nothing to do with me.'It’s a strange sort of life for American born children with parents who come from other countries. The stories our parents share are nothing we can fully grasp, having never been at the mercy of losing our freedoms, yearning for a culture you had to leave behind, our only history in memories painted by our parents. It’s so much harder when you’ve never been taught your parent’s language, there are things that never translate (words, memories, nightmares). How are we to understand the spaces in the distance between us, the sorrows we can’t understand because said parent doesn’t have the words to express them, even if their English is flawless? Culture is a beautiful thing, but it can be limiting too. In part of the memoir, Anya mentions her cousins being more ‘Ukrainian’ than she and her sister were, having been exposed to the culture and taught the language. Her father compared them and felt she and her sister could never measure up, but how could she when he didn’t take the effort nor time to teach them. It’s funny how common that is, how often a parent can be proud of their heritage and yet give up teaching their American children about it, especially the language, then feeling slighted their offspring can’t say a word beyond hello and goodbye in their mother tongue, nor muster up the sufficient amount of pride and patriotism their parent feels.We have a habit of dissecting behaviors based on our own experiences, never thinking how living in a country can mould you. Coldness can be a defense, mistrust and distance can be a byproduct of real events that took place when you had to fear your neighbors, even your own family turning you in for speaking against the regime. It means nothing to a child though, looking for love, acceptance, warmth. Anya has only her own experience to draw from, her own homeland, with needs any American child has that foreign parents resent or simply cannot comprehend. Their expectations are so much higher, understanding what obstacles they had to conquer to get where they are. Both are naturally gifted, highly intelligent, but it for Anya what is simple to her parents was a struggle for her. Anya’s parents were different people when they were alone together on their travels. As parents they were disappointed, short-tempered, demanding, drunk, distant, or outright absent. It was impossible to work up enthusiasm for his short visits, he was as much as a stranger. When her father was killed, she was numb because what did she really know about him? She could only recall being a disappointment to him. He was never really around, having lived overseas for his job, far more interested in his career. To Anya’s eyes there was a selfish cruelty there, how different her mother could have been had she had support, love instead of being a married woman living like a single mother. He got to use his education, give his dreams wings, experience all the exciting things the places he traveled and worked at had to offer while her once vibrant, gorgeous, intelligent mother was left behind to be the adult. It robbed she and her sister as much, leaving them with an unhappy mother that didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to nurture them. Her mother was consumed over his death, it had to have been murder! It was because of his work! Growing up, Anya’s mother drank herself into a stupor, she couldn’t be sure how much was delusional drunk ravings or truth. She falsely believed her parents were incapable of love, especially for each other.It isn’t until she loses her mother that she uncovers the secret wounds both her mother and father carried, and finds herself traveling to Wales and the Ukraine, speaking to people who knew them to find out if there is truth to her father having been murdered. In the process, she discovers losses her mother suffered, that explains perfectly how she became unhinged. The heartbreak is in realizing she would have loved to know them, how much fun it would have been to be friends with her mother, to see the light in her father’s eyes when he was in his element, as strangers knew him. But it’s never to be. All she has is the remains of the past.It’s a struggle, in loss people gasp when someone confesses that they didn’t feel the expected emotions to their parent’s passing. Maybe that’s because so many people have intimate relationships with their parents, or a gentler, safer upbringing. Others are left to struggle with conflicting emotions, particularly in abusive relationships. Taking care of a drunk parent is a form of abuse, distance is a form of abuse. Yet, through her search she knows there were reasons why her mother couldn’t keep things together, why her father chose to ‘run’ from her sorrow. There is still love but it’s a different sort. Anya, through excavating the ruins of her parent’s life and marriage, is able to forgive and maybe find some peace, solve some of the mystery of who they were as people. This is a deeply sad, moving memoir. Some answers still leave many questions. Was he murdered? Was his death just an unlucky accident? Some questions never have a solid answer, especially in countries where truth is a slippery beast.Publication Date: March 27, 2018Crown Publishing
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, an excellent memoir. Well-written, immersive, and emotional. This woman's journey overtook my last two days. I will post a more in-depth review closer to publication date, but I will definitely be recommending this book. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Danielle Mootz
    January 1, 1970
    Okay so. I had just received this book when my father fell very ill and was brought home in hospice care. I began reading it after he passed on Christmas Day. There is little similarity between the relationship Anya had with her parents but so much in common as I navigated my grief by seeking to understand who my father was before me. As Anya sought answers from the Ukraine, I sought answers from the shores of Vietnam revealing my father's time there and what would eventually explain the missing Okay so. I had just received this book when my father fell very ill and was brought home in hospice care. I began reading it after he passed on Christmas Day. There is little similarity between the relationship Anya had with her parents but so much in common as I navigated my grief by seeking to understand who my father was before me. As Anya sought answers from the Ukraine, I sought answers from the shores of Vietnam revealing my father's time there and what would eventually explain the missing pieces of my father's life he couldn't speak about. And when Anya suffers secondary trauma from learning so much she didn't know about her parents, so did I. This memoir will forever remind of the grief I experienced after losing my dad but also the joy in learning so much about the man I adored so much.
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  • Maudaevee
    January 1, 1970
    This was so intriguing and intimate, everything I want in a memoir.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This was not what I expected. It's a little different as far as memoirs go. It's kind of a autobiography with a little bit of history thrown in. After the death of her mother, Anya finds love letters written by her parents to each other. She begins to reconsider how she see's her parents. Instead of viewing them as just her parents, she begins to view them as people, with desires, fears, and goals for the future. She had a difficult childhood, which she credits for turning her into the person sh This was not what I expected. It's a little different as far as memoirs go. It's kind of a autobiography with a little bit of history thrown in. After the death of her mother, Anya finds love letters written by her parents to each other. She begins to reconsider how she see's her parents. Instead of viewing them as just her parents, she begins to view them as people, with desires, fears, and goals for the future. She had a difficult childhood, which she credits for turning her into the person she is today. Her father alternated between being absent and overbearing. Her mother slowly turns into an alcoholic. However, upon learning more about them, she comes to understand the choices they made and the path they eventually take with their lives. While not making excuses for their behavior, she does come to some sort of understanding and ultimately forgiveness.To be honest, there were times where I found it difficult to be sympathetic toward the author. There were times, when I felt like she was being a little self indulgent and whiny, but towards the later half of the book she does redeem herself. Despite her unusual upbringing and crazy parents she somehow turned out alright and learned a lot about the people who raised her. It was an interesting read for sure. Thank you to NetGalley for providing and ARC for review.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Why do people chose to write memoirs? After many years of reading memoirs, I come to believe that the authors are trying to understand their lives and the people and events in them. That's certainly the case of Anya Yurchyshyn and her remarkable parents, George and Anita, who died and left Anya and her sister with questions that seemingly had no answers. "Remarkable" people are not easy to live with. In Anya's case, her father George had fled Ukraine to the United States as a child after WW2. Th Why do people chose to write memoirs? After many years of reading memoirs, I come to believe that the authors are trying to understand their lives and the people and events in them. That's certainly the case of Anya Yurchyshyn and her remarkable parents, George and Anita, who died and left Anya and her sister with questions that seemingly had no answers. "Remarkable" people are not easy to live with. In Anya's case, her father George had fled Ukraine to the United States as a child after WW2. Though growing up and being schooled in the US, George maintained a strong identity as Ukrainian and in his career as a banker, went back to the country in the 1980's and 1990's to help with economic development after the country became independent when the USSR broke up. He was killed an an automobile accident near Kiev in 1994. Anya's mother, of Polish background, never really fit in with George's life, though they did travel together and they raised two daughters, though, Anita did most of the parenting, as well as maintaining her own career as an environmentalist. She also did most of the drinking and died in 2010 from alcoholism. Anya Yurchyshyn's book, "My Dead Parents", is a well-written story of a family of individualists who never seemed to really fit together. Between her mother's alcoholism and her father's distance - both physical and emotional - the love the couple first felt for each other gradually eroded. And when parents don't connect, it's harder for the family to connect and make a whole. By the book's end, I think Anya has come to terms with her family and her life.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    My Dead Parents is a memoir written by the youngest daughter. She describes a childhood inundated with a demanding, largely absentee father and a mother increasingly spiraling into extreme alcoholism. After both parents' deaths, the author pieces together the story of her parents' lives, their marriage, and begins to see and comprehend more than she had before. In the end, I think she made peace with the difficulties of her past and came to accept her parents for who they were. Thanks to NetGall My Dead Parents is a memoir written by the youngest daughter. She describes a childhood inundated with a demanding, largely absentee father and a mother increasingly spiraling into extreme alcoholism. After both parents' deaths, the author pieces together the story of her parents' lives, their marriage, and begins to see and comprehend more than she had before. In the end, I think she made peace with the difficulties of her past and came to accept her parents for who they were. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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  • Carla
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Thanks!What an interesting memoir of a daughter trying to reconcile what she perceived to be her parents' 2 different lives.After their deaths, the author went on an emotional journey to get to know her parents.Thank you, Anya, for sharing your deeply personal story.
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  • Angie C
    January 1, 1970
    I borrowed this from a friend who got an advanced copy and couldn't put it down. Like the author, I feel like I didn't know my parents as well as I wanted, and I found this book incredibly moving and brave. I've already pre-ordered a copy for my brother!
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  • Sara Pepas
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. An interesting memoir but also a sad one. It took a lot of guts for Anya to tell her story but also be willing to learn more about who her parents really wore.
  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Nicely done.this was a goodreads giveaway
  • Crystal Zavala
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Anya,Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, with the world. I relate so closely to the relationship that you had (or didn't have) with your Father. I also relate to having an alcoholic Mother. You and your sister have been through a lot and should be proud of how you have come out stronger on the other end.I know that this isn't a typical review, but I felt so close to you after reading your memoir that I wanted to write it directly to you.Sincerely,Crystal
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