Book #34 of 2020 | The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

Title: The Yellow House

Author: Sarah M. Broom

Thoughts: I struggled to get into this book, but I’m glad I read it. It’s a memoir but it’s both deeply personal and also has a historical feel to it. I have always been interested in the ways the place or places we grow up shape us, and Broom really grapples with that idea throughout the book. New Orleans is not a city I’ve been to or know much about, and this memoir presents New Orleans for what it is, not what it is made out to be.

Favorite Lines:
“Even though it goes against what Pastor Simmons preaches about the body being just a container for what matters, I thought then and still think now: when a person dies in a place they become the place and nothing is ever the same again.” (p. 133)

“Defining myself almost exclusively by a mythology, allowing the city to do what it does best and for so many: act as a cipher, transfiguring into whatever I needed it to be. I did not yet understand the psychic cost of defining yourself by the place where you are from.” (p. 183)

“I understood, then, that the place I never wanted to claim had, in fact, been containing me. We own what belongs to us whether we claim it or not. When the house fell down, it can be said, something in me opened up. Cracks help a house resolve internally its pressure and stresses, my engineer friend had said. Houses provide a frame that bears us up. Without that physical structure, we are the house that bears itself up. I was now the house.” (p. 232)

“Remembering hurts, but forgetting is Herculean.” (p. 237)

“It is the return not the going away that matters, I always wanted to say. That painful snapping back into place.” (p. 252)

“Who has the rights to the story of a place? Are these rights earned, bought, fought and died for? Or are they given? Are they automatic, like an assumption? Self-renewing? Are these rights a token of citizenship belonging to those who stay in the place or to those who leave and come back to it? Does the act of leaving relinquish one’s rights to the story of a place? Who stays gone? Who can afford to return?” (p. 329)

“We are all born into histories, worlds existing before us. The same is true of places. No place is without history.” (p. 331)

Click here to purchase The Yellow House

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