In The Long Journey Home, their mother, Margaret Robison, finally gets to tell her side of the story, which is more nuanced and poignant than one would ever imagine. Beginning with her childhood in southern Georgia, with its façade of 1950s propriety masking all sorts of recognizable demons (alcoholism, sexual repression, misogyny, suicide, and disease) up until her mental breakdown and, in recent years, her recovery from her massive stroke, The Long Journey Home is Robison's attempt to make sense of a complicated, often tortured, and complex American life. She writes movingly and honestly about her shortcomings as a parent, her difficult marriage, and her two now-famous children. An accomplished poet and artist, Robison tells the heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting story of a woman trapped by social convention in a time when escaping cultural expectations was harder than we now can remember.
The Georgia town Cairo where this story takes place pronounces its name like Karo syrup -- keɪ.roʊ -- not like the city in Egypt. See Wikipedia. I have to say that as a southerner from that region the continued mispronunciation of the name really bothered me. The disconnect between southern cities taking their names from classical cities, but pronouncing them differently is one of oddities that makes the south quirky and it would seem especially important to pick that up in the reading of a southern memoir. When the narrator gets details like the pronunication of the central city wrong, the book itself loses some credibility. If the author has listened to this title, she must be disappointed that the audible version gets her "voice" all wrong. Beyond that, I thought the story rambled a lot and sometimes I found myself lost in the chronology of her life.