LONG LIVE THE TRIBE OF FATHERLESS GIRLS
by T Kira Madden
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls was a breath of fresh air. If you isolate many of its thematic elements and you read a lot of this type of memoir, there’s plenty of familiarity – coming of age, coming to terms with queerness, racial identity, sexual assault, trauma, drugs, love, family ties. But T Kira Madden does something completely unique with it, revealing enough of her life to the reader in each chapter to keep us absorbed, yet employing a non-linear structure so faultlessly that its full impact cannot be felt until you turn the final page.
Set mostly in Boca Raton where Madden grew up, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls chronicles a childhood marked both by privilege and instability (she grew up with many material comforts being related to the Steve Madden shoe dynasty, but under the guardianship of neglectful parents battling addiction). Each chapter, charting a different period of Madden’s life, is in its own way fresh, dynamic, and heart-wrenching, but the titular chapter is probably the stand-out – the depiction of the tight bonds of teenage girlhood underscored by Madden’s burgeoning sexual awakening made my heart hurt – as well as the final chapter that so brilliantly ties the whole book together.
It’s hard to talk about this book without getting into specifics which would neuter some of the impact if you know too much of what to expect, but I can’t say enough good things about it and about Madden’s prose. It was gentle, visceral, intricate, and structured with a kind of careful deliberation that ultimately elevates what was already going to be an exquisite book.
You can pick up a copy of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls here on Book Depository.