A few weeks after Alison Smith's brother died at age 18, her mother fixed up a van to look like the one in which he was killed, then took the family on their usual vacation. She had them drive to same town they always went on Cape Cod, stay at the same camp site, go to the same beach.
This is just one of the many searing moments in Alison Smith's Name All the Animals: A Memoir. Her portrait of a family reveals parents unable to be parents any longer, the solace Smith finally finds in loving another girl at school, and her pain as her parents then reject the only child they have left.
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She does this without a trace of malice. Her book is clear-eyed, yet forgiving.
Smith will be online Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss writing Name All the Animals.
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Host Carole Burns is a fiction writer with short stories published or upcoming in Washingtonian Magazine and several literary journals. Twice a fellow at The MacDowell Colony, she's at work on a novel.
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