I found Karr's account about her upbringing in a very dysfunctional middle-class American family both disturbing and rewarding. In the first instance, what she vividly describes about the many 'skeletons' in her parents' closet is the obvious build-up of unresolved tension and anger from previous generations. How they deal with these mounting concerns is to simply deny their existence and carry on their own private wars of revenge by hurting each other and the next generation. The outcome is nothing short of tragic sordidness: rape, molestation, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse, and deceit. Many of the adults, like Mary's dad, belong to a fraternity of liars that informally meet to keep up the appearances that everything is fine in the here and now. Where the story redeems itself is at the end when Mary learns some very important facts that help clarify her parents' individual and collective struggles. While many of the unresolved hurts of their past can never be fully resolved because their origins are mired too deeply in a distant quagmire of guilt, at least Mary and her mother have the glorious opportunity to break with the past and move forward with a new life. Karr handles this delicate subject area of intergenerational strife with great dignity and candor. I recommend it to anyone who is bogged down with trying to make sense of a blighted past.