February 1, 2021
You can tear a thing apart and tape it back together, and it will still be torn and whole. There is no other way. In her fiercely beautiful memoir, Jeannine Ouellette recollects fragments of her life and arranges them elliptically to witness each piece as torn and whole, as something more than itself. Caught between the dramatic landscapes of Lake Superior and Casper Mountain, between her stepfather’s groping and her mother’s erratic behavior, Ouellette lives for the day she can become a mother herself and create her own sheltering family. But she cannot know how the visceral reality of both birth and babies will pull her back into the body she long ago abandoned, revealing new layers of pain and desire, and forcing her to choose between her idealistic vision of perfect marriage and motherhood, and the birthright of her own awakening flesh, unruly and alive. The Part That Burns is a story about the tenacity of family roots, the formidable undertow of trauma, and the rebellious and persistent yearning of human beings for love from each other.