cover image Talking to My Angels: A Memoir

Talking to My Angels: A Memoir

Melissa Etheridge. Harper Wave, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-325745-0

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Etheridge follows up 2001’s The Truth Is... with a frank look at her life and career. Born in Kansas in 1961, Etheridge had a difficult childhood: her older sister began sexually abusing her when she was six or seven, her mother had debilitating depression, and Etheridge herself struggled with an early realization that she was gay. Music provided an emotional outlet and, eventually, a lucrative career. She’s especially good at linking the lyrics of her best-known work to the experiences that inspired them: “Bring Me Some Water,” for example, came from a place of insecurity about a nonmonogamous partner (“I would have my share of dating more than one woman at a time, but when I was with Kathleen, I wanted her to be all mine”). Most affecting, though, are the sections about Etheridge’s son, Beckett, and his descent into opioid addiction. In 2020, Beckett died of an overdose at age 21, and Etheridge writes wrenchingly of her slow-moving project to forgive herself for his death and focus on the “warmth” she gleans from his memory. This clear-eyed look at life, loss, and art-making resonates. Agent: Yfat Reiss Gendel, YRG Partners. (Sept.)