“When you have a lifetime of emotions that you have been running from, it seems like once they catch up they will gang-beat you and leave you crippled in an alleyway. Curb stomp finale. You learn to have distaste for them, to ignore their presence, and to dislike when other people are emotional. You learn to interpret their vulnerability as weakness and witnessing a sob might very well make your stomach churn. ‘Get it together,’ you’ll mutter under your breath or in the back of your mind as other people weep. Seeing their emotion only reminds you of your own weakness, which in fact is not really a weakness at all but a necessity to live an emotionally healthy life.”– In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott
Summary and Thoughts
Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.
With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather, Chief Bigfoot, her journey exposes the legacy of colonialism, while reclaiming her spirit.
Hard-hitting and poetic, In My Own Moccasins is not for the faint of heart. A beautiful book chronicling a Canadian indigenous woman’s story of resilience and activism, rising from a history of child abuse, alcoholism, drugs, and sexual assault. This memoir’s emotionally resonant narrative is only augmented by its lyrical prose and understanding of when to ease and release tension. Despite the intense subject matter, I read this book eagerly within two sittings. Knott’s honesty and introspective observations make her story compelling, memorable, and will assuredly speak to the hearts of many. Her grip on hope, for her herself and for other indigenous women in similar dire circumstances, solidify its urgent necessity on all to-read bookshelves.
For Those Who Enjoyed
- The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
- How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
- Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture Essays edited by Roxane Gay
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