I have just finished Rachel Sontag's memoir. I would describe it as an "easy read" if only to be obnoxious. I read it eagerly at times and at other times with trepidation, not because of what she said but because of what I thought she meant. Devouring the pages there were lines that brought tears to my eyes, lines filled with meaning on the edge or underneath it, lines focused and clear and precise. Then there were lines with innuendo or suggestion, where a hint of something terrible was not nearly enough.
If I were talking to Rachel, and after 200 or so pages I know her fairly well enough to call her by her first name, so if Rachel and I were talking I would have to ask her to tell me exactly what was going on. The implication is that her controlling, perhaps over protective father was drugging her mother and perhaps sexually attracted to his daughter, though instead of acting on these impulses (thankfully) he exerted control over her appearance, her actions and most sadistically and brutally her self esteem and self worth. It was a malicious cycle of abuse where her father dictated harsh, untrue and hurtful things for her to write, internalize and sooner or later believe. It was definitely abuse. Her mother, often drugged either by him or by her illusions of love, stood idly by, when she wasn't trying to kill Rachel.
And yet, there is an implication that the father, who prescribed drugs for his mother and kept codeine liked in a safe at home (why?) and looked at his daughter and thought obscene things about her, had an unusual attraction to Rachel of which his mother was jealous of.
I'm not sure where Rachel is when we meet, psychologically I mean. She has sought therapy but has not resolved the issues with her parents. She has reached the point where she can survive without oozing back in to their patterns and her sister has emerged from the well dripping with another problem, but there seems to be no self resolution. There is the sense that that functions, but not that she has learned a thing.
This is a memoir that shows the reasons she has acted or reacted a certain way, it is an answer perhaps to a question she was asked by a lover she had no way of answering, other than like this, thus we have Rachel.
Very close to intimate, very close to healed.