If you think you had it rough in childhood, think again. Once in a while a memoir shows up and has a way to turn your insides out. “An Abbreviated Life” is not for the faint of heart. Ariel Leve portrays perhaps the most pervasive aspect of childhood, hers in this case, growing up with unstable parents, in this case, a parent — her mother, who she describes as “ a poet, an artist, a self-appointed troublemaker and attention seeker.” In other words, a brutal cocktail guaranteeing to lead to shaky foundation and to make the rooms spin.
And instability is what Ariel confronts on a daily roller-coaster of emotional tug of war dance. The most harrowing aspect of her memoir is when she recognizes that her own life, years after her mother’s death, is still been impacted by the relationship. Sound familiar? Who has not, you may say? Leve’s gripping tortured confessions are not sentimental catharsis, aimed at coaxing the reader or even giving them an insight into the horror of an warped childhood. Though the memoir take you to the edge of the unbearable at time when you have to take a deep breath before flicking the next page, it is also an honest investigation of trauma. How to be knowing that life could have been otherwise but has molded you in a way that entrapped you and this with complete awareness? If your heart does not break at this stage . . . nothing will. This testimony makes a great argument for parenting licensing.