The Mason House: A Memoir

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Despite the author’s upbringing filled with chaos and turmoil, The Mason House is not a tale of trauma. Theresa is the daughter of Chippewa (now Ojibwe) and French Canadian/Cornish parents, raised in Michigan’s impoverished Upper Peninsula. At least until her parents begin moving every few months or years, dragging the family to West Virginia and Oklahoma, criss-crossing the Midwest as they leave a trail of beer cans behind them.

The Mason house is where Theresa’s beloved grandmother lives, creating a haven of safety and comfort to the young girl. There, she and her sisters can nestle together and listen to stories or the peaceful sounds of the night. Bertineau is an astute observer of detail and renders what a child sees and hears in vivid, original prose: “the smack of an album on the turntable,” a deck of cards being shuffled in “a sudden flutter, like harried wrens.”

As Theresa grows, she doesn’t know whether she is “Indian enough.” But after her grandmother’s death, when she is visited by Gram’s image, she starts to think otherwise. This memoir emphasizes the strengths that help her: certain teachers, generous relatives in her extensive family tree, a close friend; and these are as important as any of the painful episodes that she experiences. Happily, her family—despite divorces and estrangements—eventually reunites, all of them healing together through sobriety and through embracing their Ojibwe culture.


Reviewed By:

Author T. Marie Bertineau
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Lanternfish Press
Publish Date 2020-09-29
ISBN 9781941360439
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2020
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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