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Don’t You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son by Mary Carter Bishop

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I found this book really difficult to put down. The combination of the subject matter and the skill of the writer grabbed me from the beginning. It is a memoir by a woman whose life is shattered when she discovers that she has a half-brother whose very existence has been kept a secret for decades. How does that change her relationship with her mother?  And what can she expect when she reaches out to her half-brother nine years after learning that he exists?  And what about the three years after that while he is dying?  This story plays out in the Shenandoah Valley and nearby Charlottesville, where the chasm between people brought up like the author and those brought up like her half-brother, Ronnie, exists but is seldom fully comprehended or confronted. “In this profound memoir, Bishop takes an open-hearted and unflinching look at a family history that is equal parts love story and requiem for a brother she barely knew. Bishop turns her formidable investigative journalism skills inward to unearth long-simmering class and culture divides in bucolic rural Virginia.” - Beth Macy. “Bishop is a seasoned award-winning newspaper reporter who reveals a fascinating segment of her life in clear, unflinching style.... [Don’t You Ever is] brave and terrific.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a stared review and commented, “Bishop digs deep into her own past, exposing class structure...genteel poverty, self-loathing, and self-doubt in a deeply honest manner… This powerful tale lays bare the cancer of shame and its often devastating results.”  Kirkus Reviews stated, “The narrative moves fluidly… Both of the author’s key subjects come across as baffling, complicated individuals, deserving of love and respect despite their flaws, shaped by a society that viewed a mother who had a child out of wedlock as shameful. A precise and honest depiction of a family wound that has still not entirely healed.”

New York, New York: Harper/HarperCollins, 2018. 247 pages. Hardback in dust jacket