Skip to Main Content

A History of Scars

A Memoir

From a writer whose work has been called “breathtaking and dazzling” by Roxane Gay, this moving, illuminating, and multifaceted memoir explores, in a series of essays, the emotional scars we carry when dealing with mental and physical illnesses—reminiscent of The Collected Schizophrenias and An Unquiet Mind.

In this stunning debut, Laura Lee weaves unforgettable and eye-opening essays on a variety of taboo topics.

In “History of Scars” and “Aluminum’s Erosions,” Laura dives head-first into heavier themes revolving around intimacy, sexuality, trauma, mental illness, and the passage of time. In “Poetry of the World,” Laura shifts and addresses the grief she feels by being geographically distant from her mother whom, after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, is relocated to a nursing home in Korea.

Through the vivid imagery of mountain climbing, cooking, studying writing, and growing up Korean American, Lee explores the legacy of trauma on a young queer child of immigrants as she reconciles the disparate pieces of existence that make her whole.

By tapping into her own personal, emotional, and psychological struggles in these powerful and relatable essays, Lee encourages all of us to not be afraid to face our own hardships and inner truths.

Photograph © Laura Lee

Laura Lee is a writer based in Chicago. She holds a BA in comparative literature from New York University and an MFA in creative writing from Purdue University. A History of Scars is her first book.

"Narrator Emily Woo Zeller homes in on the powerful essence of the 12 interrelated essays that comprise Korean–American Laura Lee's memoir. As is the case with many nonfiction accounts of mental health struggles, traumatic subject matter risks oversaturating the listener in emotional pain. But Zeller's performance adroitly navigates this complicated terrain, adjusting voice to text; lacing optimism into explorations of gender, sexuality, travel, and cooking; and weaving subtle desperation into accounts of childhood abuse. Echoing the rock-climbing metaphor at the core of this heartfelt work, Zeller becomes the trusted belayer (the person controlling a climber's safety rope) who supports the listener throughout their journey." 

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this reader: Emily Woo Zeller