A fan of the memoir, I discovered this latest read, I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway, while perusing the shelves at Horizontal Books in Cleveland, Ohio. Tracy McMillan writes with honesty as she details her childhood dysfunction and its lasting effects which reach into her adulthood especially in her relations with men.
What drew me in as a reader were her thought processes from the perspective of her childhood self as well as her adult self intermingled with one another within a single chapter. The weight of what McMillan had to endure as a little girl resulted in my taking numerous breathers from the reading. Born to a father who was a pimp/drug dealer and a mother who worked as a prostitute, McMillan finally found some normalcy at the hands of Gene and June Ericson, her foster parents, for four and a half years. Then, she was uprooted from this home only to live with her father and his girlfriend until his return to prison. Her parenting then fell into the hands of her father’s girlfriend turned wife, Yvonne.
As an adult and reflecting on her current relationship with her stepmother which is pretty much nonexistent, McMillan writes:
I feel a twinge of sadness, not because I wish that we were going to be a part of each other’s lives- I don’t see a life of merry Christmases and summer vacations with Yvonne- but there’s a part of me that loves a happy ending, and as endings go, this one isn’t happy. It’s just okay. . . . on second thought, an okay ending will do just fine. (312)
This is just one of many sympathetic introspections the author engages in throughout the memoir resulting in a resolution of profound thought.
Furthermore, in dealing with her son who questions McMillan as to why she divorced her third husband, McMillan takes full ownership of her role as parent, “I know my choices have affected you, honey. I’m so, so sorry. . . .We can make it count for something” (333), and responsibility to stop the cycles of dysfunction.
If reading I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway for book club, perhaps a trip to Paris (where McMillan and her son commenced a fresh start) for discussion will fit into everyone’s schedule. If not in the budget, then perhaps coffee to mirror how McMillan not only starts her day, but how this beverage makes an appearance during many of McMillan’s life-changing events.