A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, by Alicia Elliott

This is a book I’ve seen recommended a lot, and I’m so glad that I chose to buy it as an audiobook and listen to the author herself read it, because that format really increased the intimacy and power of an already-intimate book. I’ve shelved it as a “memoir” in my tags, which it is, but it’s not really a memoir in the sense of telling a single chronological narrative of the author’s life. Rather, it’s a collection of powerful personal essays, in which Elliott ties her personal and family stories into broader themes: mental illness, racism, what it means to be an indigenous person in today’s Canada, violence against indigenous girls and woman, domestic violence, and much more.

Alicia Elliott pulls no punches and doesn’t sugar-coat any aspect of the trauma she writes about, whether it’s her own personal/family trauma or the larger background against which its set: the generations of trauma inflicted on indigenous people by settler colonizers and the governments they created. As a settler-descended Canadian, this was a tough but important read for me. It’s rare that a writer can manage to write in terms that are both searingly personal and yet broadly applicable to larger issues in our society, but Alicia Elliott achieves this. I highly recommend this book.

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Filed under Audiobook, Canadian author, Nonfiction -- memoir

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