Review: Floating in My Mother's Palm

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Floating in My Mother's Palm is a warm, tranquil read that is equal parts tragedy and growth. I know - that's a complete and utter contradiction, but I have no better way to explain it. My reflections on the book cast memories of lyrical writing and original characters. Each chapter brings you to a level of secreted voyeurism over the town; some exposing every detail while others dangle on the edge of mere inferences. It reads as a history more than fiction to which fact I would not be surprised if such a childhood existed for one and a lifetime for another.

Hanna Malter is a 1950's youth growing up in a small German town where lesson plans stop when teachers reach the history of the 1930's. She is the daughter of a stoic dentist and free spirited mother and under the charge of a strict, but forgiving house keeper. Hanna is influenced by the gossip of the local pay-librarian, the tribulations of her parent's tenants, and her mother's unconventional ways. Each soul within the town has a story to tell and each a secret to keep.

I picked up this book for 50 cents at a book sale fundraiser. In fact, I purchased Ursula Hegi's entire collection at that book sale and I've slowly begun to chip away at it. I've been hooked on journal-esque memoir styled anthologies since I was in high school when my teacher assigned us The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (an absolute favorite of mine.) Of this genre, this book did not disappoint.

The short, bite sized stories within each chapter of Floating in My Mother's Palm make evening reading a cinch. The reader can speed through a chapter before lights out and sleepy eyes take over and not feel like they are about to miss out on something heroic or character ending. Although they seem independent of each other, Hegi does a magnificent job guiding the reader through the chapters while offering a rotund, rich environment in which the main character was raised.

Overall, it was a great introduction to Hegi's writing style and story telling abilities. When the last page is turned you'll be left feeling content and your life more enriched for the experience.