Author: Barbara Bracht Donsky

Publisher: She Writes Press

ISBN-10: 1631520741; ISBN-13: 978-1631520747

The heart-warming sincerity and depth of this coming-of-age memoir, set against a backdrop of New York suburbs in the author’s younger years and later, as a young adult, against the Parisian rues, is all the more surprising for the emotional repressiveness of her father and stepmother, as well as of the nuns at the Catholic schools that she attends. Barbara Bracht Donsky’s genuineness and close association with the urban landscape, for which she clearly has deep feelings of appreciation (“The best people live in the Bronx, the beautiful Bronx”) can first be seen when her father wishes to leave the Bronx to move to Yonkers, which he regards as a more suitable setting in which to raise his young family.

This is only one of the first instances of where Barbara (or “Bob” as her father prefers to call her) has a fall out with her only surviving parent. Much of her young life is spent rebelling, in spirit at least, against the dictates of a father who fails to recognise Barbara’s potential for worthwhile and meaningful employment, let alone for the leadership role that she has since come to assume within the broader society. The failure to develop a fully trusting and meaningful relationship with either her father or her stepmother hinges a great deal on the insecurities to which Barbara is prone, due to her mother’s death not being explained to her from an early age, and to her having to find out through her cousins that her mother has passed away, when all the time she had thought that she must simply be missing. The author reveals in poignant detail the effect that such non-disclosure has on her formative years, drawing the reader into her own inner world of emotional angst. Yet, despite such bereavement and loss, Barbara is able to soldier on to become very much her own woman, and one who grows into a mature and empathetic figure, who is able to reach out to others precisely because of her emotional baggage, rather than in spite of it.

Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir is worthwhile reading for any young woman who has had to struggle to assert herself against a patriarchal and traditionally religious upbringing. For sheer joy of spirit and joie de vivre, Barbara Donsky’s memoir surpasses many another work of its like―an experience that promises to be a rewarding read for mother and daughter alike, it fully deserves the acclaim that it has so far achieved.