cover image Mother Noise: A Memoir

Mother Noise: A Memoir

Cindy House. Scribner/Marysue Rucci, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-982168-75-9

A brutal story of heroin addiction gives way to a heartening look at motherhood in this brilliant debut from essayist House. Reflecting on that experience 20 years later, she explains her resolve in 2017 to tell her nine-year-old that she spent her 20s doing heroin. “If I [didn’t] tell him soon, it could become... a secret that might leave him feeling like he doesn’t really know me,” she writes before parsing her past sins via a mix of unflinchingly frank vignettes and vivid sketches. After depicting the anxiety-ridden childhood that ignited her decades-long quest to “numb” herself, she whisks readers through her seven-year affair with heroin in the 1990s in Chicago; multiple attempts at rehab; her harrowing abusive first marriage; and, eventually, the triumph of her hard-earned sobriety. She also shares the resonant story of finding her voice, with guidance from “the not-yet-famous David Sedaris,” whom she met while attending the Art Institute of Chicago. Echoes of Sedaris seep through in House’s mordant wit (“I crawled down... the bar on my hands and knees, like Jackie Kennedy on the back of the limo”), but it’s her raw prose and poignant musings on parenting—“the first really hard thing I’d done as a sober person”—that make this sing. A full-throated anthem of hope, this lends light to a dark issue. (May)