cover image A Smoke and a Song: A Memoir

A Smoke and a Song: A Memoir

Sherry Sidoti. She Writes, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-64742-509-8

Yoga instructor Sidoti recounts her experiences of childhood abuse in this stirring debut memoir. As the granddaughter of poet Stanley Kunitz, Sidoti’s 1970s New York City childhood was shot through with art and culture. Behind the scenes, though, she was among the third generation of women in her family to endure sexual and emotional abuse—in her case, from her mother’s boyfriend. With her volatile father away in a cabin upstate, Sidoti found solace in her grandmother’s private art studio, where she developed an inner voice, learning that “in public, we can be one person. In private, someone else.” In adulthood, the traumas of her past resurfaced relentlessly, interfering with her marriage and yoga career: “Spiky bits... bubble up. The unprotected, neglected little girl who resides inside. The young woman who tried to forget by smoking her grandmother’s cigarettes. The forty-nine-year-old woman who forces a run instead of taking a nap when she’s tired.” She ultimately makes peace with these past selves by discussing her traumas with her family and using various spiritual practices, including yoga, to remind herself that “new life is blooming. Loss is looming. And both gladness and grief grip at the gate.” This is powerful stuff. Agent: Jennifer Utner, Utner Agency. (Aug.)