At the Narrow Waist of the World by Marlena Maduro Baraf is a narrative that investigates mental illness, issues of belonging, and the influence of family and generational past.
Told as a memoir that focuses on Baraf’s own mother, At the Narrow Waist of the World centers most of its conversation on mental health and how sanity is a complicated aspect of the human condition. Throughout Baraf’s life, her mother suffered from a number of psychotic breakdowns and spent years in psychiatric facilities. Through her memoir, Baraf attempts to both capture the memory of her mother and form a greater understanding of her mother’s influence in her own life.
In tandem with Baraf’s struggle with her mother and their nuanced relationship is Baraf’s internal battle with the notion of belonging. Growing up Jewish in Panama while attending a Catholic school, Baraf was at a constant loss as to how she fit in to the world around her.
At the Narrow Waist of the World tells one woman’s story of navigating the struggles of her adolescent and young adult life and how she both overcame and still lives with those struggles. While none of Baraf’s burning questions are necessarily answered, she does seem to come to peace with and embrace some of the more difficult aspects of her life.
Mixing English and Spanish, text and photographs, letters and remembered dialogue, At the Narrow Waist of the World is an eclectic and quick read.
Published by She Writes Press in August 2019, At the Narrow Waist of the World is available for purchase at your local bookstore.
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FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.