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Family matters: sometimes the greatest problems are spoken of the least…

White Walls

This might occur because family members are genuinely unaware of the issue or are in denial. Alternatively, the problematic situation may actually be screamingly obvious to them, but, lacking the ability to fix it, they see no point is discussing it. Such problems, however, can significantly influence family relationships and individual growth, decades and even generations down the road.

This was certainly the case for writer and performer Judy Batalion, as she humorously describes with both exasperation and affection in her memoir, White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess in Between. The granddaughter of Jewish Polish immigrants who escaped the Holocaust and settled in Montreal, Judy grew up in a house suffocatingly full of items obsessively collected by her hoarding mother. Tuna cans, clocks, VHS tapes, magazines, dollhouses, and much, much more filled rooms and covered surfaces, along with attendant dust and crumbs. This made her home environment both physically and emotionally difficult to navigate, and Judy was only too happy in her early adulthood to flee to other continents to pursue her education and her career – accumulating as little clutter as possible along the way.

Freeing herself from her parents’ home did not automatically pave the way to happy, balanced relationships in her new adulthood, however. Like many of us, she struggled to develop her identity, find a compatible mate (a number of good stories here), and maintain a relationship with her aging parents, especially with her mother, whose condition only seemed to be getting worse. What really threw her for a loop, however was becoming a mother herself much faster than she ever anticipated…

I really enjoyed White Walls, both for its sardonic humour and for its honest exploration of an individual’s and a family’s resilience under both literally and figuratively crushing circumstances. I’m looking forward to meeting Judy later this month when she visits OPL on November 22. Please join us! The event is open to everyone, and copies of the author’s book will be available for sale by Perfect Books.

Read On: White Wallsby Angela_biblio

In anticipation of Judy Batalion's visit to the Nepean Centrepointe branch at 7:00 p.m. on November 22, 2016, we've compiled the following list of titles for you to further explore the themes found in Batalion's memoir, White Walls.