Scattered Pieces

Scattered Pieces is certainly an appropriate title for Flora Season’s debut memoir, for the book reads like a collage of images and incidents from the author’s difficult yet ultimately triumphant life. Yet the pieces are by no means random recollections. Rather, the book represents Season’s efforts first at figuring out how she gained a reputation as a promiscuous youth (despite doing her best to remain chaste) and, later, at using that knowledge to move her life in a new direction. Indeed, if the book has a single argument, it’s that the only way to break free from the chains of a troubled past is to confront one’s history head-on and with no apologies.

Season’s memoir is fairly epic in scope, beginning with a harrowing depiction of life with an abusive father and a largely absent mother. What follows amounts to a study in the ways in which home life and culture work in tandem to paint people into corners: although she escapes the frying pan of living with an abusive father, she only does so by leaping into the fire of the culture that produced him — a culture in which boys are encouraged to view women as their play things and in which women are trained from an early age that their “job” is to please the men in their lives. In the author’s words, “Mommy makes me clean the entire house while my brother gets to play, but I understand; it’s because I’m a girl, and I’m going to be someone’s wife one day.”

While the grand sweep of Season’s narrative certainly offers the reader much to consider, the action also moves at a fairly fast clip. Some paragraphs could easily be developed into chapters, some chapters into book-length memoirs in their own right. All of this is to say that Scattered Pieces offers a glimpse of what is to come from an author whose odyssey from childhood to young adulthood and beyond is as checkered yet hopeful as any memoir on the market.

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