Daugh­ter in Ret­ro­grade

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - CLAIRE FOS­TER

Court­ney Ker­sten Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin Press (APRIL) Hard­cover $24.95 (208pp), 978-0-299-31700-3

What would we do dif­fer­ently if we knew where we were go­ing? Crack­ling with de­tail, Court­ney Ker­sten’s me­moir Daugh­ter in Ret­ro­grade ex­plores her re­la­tion­ship with her mother through the lens of horo­scopes, as­trol­ogy, and other div­ina­tion tools. Set in the Mid­west, it finds mir­a­cles in the mun­dane and il­lu­mi­nates the deeper truths of love.

Ker­sten and her mother Vic­to­ria are the per­fect pair of odd­niks, com­ple­ment­ing one an­other and rarely at odds. Their chal­lenge isn’t a mother-daugh­ter con­flict; rather, Vic­to­ria has cancer. The me­moir chron­i­cles her last years, de­cline, and pass­ing. Through­out, Ker­sten asks her­self: Could I have seen this com­ing?

De­spite her fas­ci­na­tion with the oc­cult and her de­sire to pre­dict the fu­ture us­ing ev­ery newage tool known to man, the answer is still no. Vic­to­ria’s ill­ness is a shock, and Ker­sten makes it clear ex­actly what, and who, is lost.

Vic­to­ria is larger than life, leap­ing from the page like a char­ac­ter from myth. Sun­bathing in an early spring heat wave, flash­ing the cam­era in a fam­ily hol­i­day photo, be­liev­ing her par­ents are rein­car­nated as a pair of red car­di­nals: she is vi­va­cious, messy. Ker­sten is her foil, an emo­tional, in­tro­spec­tive girl who yearns to travel and see the world be­yond Wis­con­sin. The ten­sion be­tween the two height­ens as Vic­to­ria’s cancer pro­gresses, forc­ing Ker­sten to leave the world of make-be­lieve and re­turn to earth.

Daugh­ter in Ret­ro­grade is Ker­sten’s first book. Chap­ters some­times read like short sto­ries, packed with di­a­logue, flash­backs, and as­tro­log­i­cal de­tail. At times, scenes can feel clut­tered. Oth­ers, like a mas­ter­ful pas­sage about the as­trologer Linda Good­man, pos­i­tively sing. Through it all, Ker­sten al­ter­nates be­tween a gim­let-eyed per­spec­tive on who she and her mother re­ally were and the child­hood dreams of who she hoped they’d be.

Daugh­ter in Ret­ro­grade is a finely writ­ten me­moir that cap­tures the sass and splen­dor of two un­for­get­table women.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.