Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays
Megan Harlan’s Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays is a selection from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, having won the award for creative nonfiction. There are ten short sections in the collection, which is divided loosely by themes. The essays cover Harlan’s unusual childhood, young adulthood, and parenthood.
As someone who is intrigued by travel, cultures, languages, and exotic places, I was fascinated by Harlan’s childhood, living all over the world, never with a permanent home. She has truly lived a life worthy of a novel. Her insights regarding the history of nomadic peoples, alongside her own experiences of family and nomadism, open the collection. She refers to science and history quite often, and there is a section at the end of Mobile Home devoted to her sources and research.
Each part of the book feels slightly different. For example, she lived in England in 1977 and offers a very cool history of aspects of British culture and also mentions the IRA during that period. She makes great references to popular culture, such as the Sex Pistols, which I really appreciated. Harlan also explores her father’s battle with alcoholism, which is a beautifully done section. I also felt empathy for her desire to ensure that her son has roots in a physical space, even though that is foreign to her. While I enjoyed aspects of the collection, I felt it was uneven. Sometimes the story telling and the history or science exposition didn’t match well. However, it is a worthwhile endeavor that many readers will enjoy.
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