Jessica Berger Gross’s “gripping memoir about growing up in—and growing out of—a deeply dysfunctional, abusive family” (Glamour.com) redefines our understanding of estrangement and celebrates the ability to triumph over adversity.
To outsiders, Jessica Berger Gross’s childhood—growing up in a “nice” Jewish family in middle class Long Island—seemed as wholesomely American as any other. But behind closed doors, Jessica suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, whose mood would veer unexpectedly from loving to violent.
At the age of twenty-eight, still reeling from the trauma but emotionally dependent on her dysfunctional family, Jessica made the anguished decision to cut ties with them entirely. Years later, living in Maine with a loving husband and young son, having finally found happiness, Jessica is convinced the decision saved her life.
In her “unsentimentally courageous memoir” (Kirkus Reviews), one of Elle’s “Best Books of the Summer,” Jessica breaks through common social taboos and bravely recounts the painful, self-defeating ways in which she internalized her abusive childhood, how she came to the monumental decision to distance herself from her family, and how she endured the difficult road that followed. Ultimately, by removing herself from the damaging patterns and relationships of the past, Jessica has managed to carve an inspiring path to happiness—one she has created on her own terms. Her story, told here in a careful, unflinching, and forthright way, completely reframes how we think about family and the past. Estranged is “a memoir of love, abuse, despair, and hope…a reminder that any family can hide a secret and that many victims of abuse go their entire lives without speaking out about it” (Booklist).
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of the bestselling book, Estranged, and the editor of the anthology About What Was Lost: 20 Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon, and The Globe and Mail. She lives with her family in Maine.
"[A] memoir of love, abuse, despair, and hope . . . a reminder that any family can hide a secret and that many victims of abuse go their entire lives without speaking out about it." —Booklist
"Excellent memoir . . . I couldn't put it down." —The Rumpus
"What is most striking about Estranged is that Gross chose to share her story at all. She is brave and unshaken . . . Straightforward, unsentimental and matter-of-fact while still a lyrical storyteller." —Portland Press Herald
"In a world that celebrates the bonds of mothers and children, and surrounds us with images of happy families celebrating their love, Jessica Berger Gross has made a brave and lonely choice to cut ties with her family and their abuse—and braver still she has chosen to tell us about it. That she survived with the strength to get away is a testimony to her courage. Many readers will recognize their own story, or a piece of it, in this one, and when they do, find comfort." —Joyce Maynard, author of At Home in the World and The Best of Us
"Estranged captures the sorrow of a hurt child with stunning intimacy. Berger Gross weaves a tale of heartbreak and triumph from the sticky, knotted threads of family, trauma, and identity. A tender and beautiful read." —Leah Vincent, author of Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood
"A memoir of painstaking clarity, Estranged illuminates the isolation of childhood misery and the grown heart's hungry quest for a safe home. For the many of us hell-bent on reality in spite of crazy origins, Berger Gross proves a sane and indispensable friend who understands in her bones that this hunt is a dire matter of survival." —Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death and She Matters: A Life in Friendships
"In this brave, gripping memoir, Jessica Berger Gross recounts her traumatic childhood in a 'nice' Jewish home on Long Island and her bold decision to break away for good. Estranged is at turns haunting, infuriating, and inspiring. . . an unforgettable story for our time." —Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo and co-author of Modern Romance