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This intimate, fearless account of the Canadian author’s relationship with her traumatized, free-thinking mother leaves you rooting for both of them.

Author and journalist Leah McLaren was a precocious 13-year-old when she broke down at her mother’s kitchen table one night in Toronto and described a harrowing sexual experience at a pool party. Her mother, Cessie, brewed her a mug of herbal tea, added a slug of whisky, and countered it with a tale of her own.At just 12, Cessie had been raped by her riding instructor. The Horseman, she called him. Having groomed her for assault, he then persuaded her that she was in love with him.

Awesome intro

The first, and most obvious, is a noise when you apply the brake pedal. This could be anything from a grinding sound to a high-pitched screech

Wearing thin and the calipers. An account of McLaren’s efforts to win her mother’s blessing for the book over a girls’ weekend in New York frames a narrative composed of chronologically arranged vignettes that capture telling moments from McLaren’s girlhood and early adulthood. More room mate than parent, Cessie gave her the freedom to cruise through school snacking on magic mushrooms, stay out all night with calling home, and tolerate the gaze of a voyeur in the alleyway outside their apartment – until she woke to find him trying to climb through her bedroom window. Listening, McLaren’s first response was relief & perhaps her own story wasn’t so momentous after all.

Images by @sample

Her mother’s, on the other hand, would come to haunt her. It appeared to hold the key to Cessie’s doomed marriage to McLaren’s small-town father at 21 and her flight, a dozen years later, in pursuit of urban sophistication and a career in newspapers. It explained a tortured romance that saw Text link from one emotional crisis to another throughout McLaren’s adolescence

John Doe

@russelb 15 Dec, 2022


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Sub Heading “The Horseman was both the clue and the final reveal. He was keystone in the arch, the signature at the bottom of every page. As Homer Simpson once observed of beer, the Horseman was the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems,” explains McLaren. It could only be a matter of time before someone in this family of writers (the mother of author and uncle are both journalists). It explained a tortured romance that saw Cessie lurch from one emotional crisis to another throughout McLaren’s adolescence.


Defaulting to Mindfulness

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  • Welsh novelist Sarah Waters sums it up eloquently
  • In their classic book, Creativity in Business, based on a popular course.
  • Novelist and screenwriter Steven Pressfield

That immediately brought to mind one of my fondest memories, involving my daughter when she was just a toddler of one.

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