Named for a childhood swing the author remembers as being impossible to get moving because of the rose bushes directly behind it, Watson’s memoir recounts her fearful, highly sheltered years growing up an only child to Ukrainian immigrants in 1940s Alberta, Canada. Watson writes from the hindsight of her 50s, living in a Quebec addiction-recovery facility, where she has checked herself in for 28 days, unsure whether she can stay married to a husband she considers as overbearing as her mother was to her.
Gradually, Watson uncovers the childhood wounds leading to her personality crisis: until age six, she lived in a log cabin in the wilderness within a few feet of her prohibitive mother, who pined for her dead firstborn son. Watson was largely ignored by her farmer father, abused by cousins and neighbors, and unable at first to speak English at her schoolhouse or make friends. Denied expression and love within the family, she acted out and married a man who helped continue to make excuses for her lack of ambition. She undergoes a rigorous 12-step program and a systematic breaking down of her ego so that she can re-create herself. This is an earnest memoir, well structured, though the writing lacks rigorous urgency.
Wow. Just wow. This is a book that made me think of my own upbringing in a new light. No, my family is not immigrants (at least not for 4 generations) but every family has secrets and demons to deal with. Watson wrote without hiding anything about her past. She tells her story, not a partial story but you can tell this is a true account of her past and how it helped her to become who she is today. This memoir works backwards through her story of overcoming her past, her conditioned reactions and her changes. I would suggest this book to anyone who wants a raw story about who the human spirit can be broken and a new person can emerge from the broken pieces.