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Kelly Carlisle was three weeks old when her mother was strangled in downtown Los Angeles, leaving Kelly in the care of her grandfather, an eccentric Englishman who owned a porn store and lived on a boat in the harbor. It is here that Kelly finds a home among friendly alcoholics and the city's forgotten residents. But she can't help but wonder if she is destined to become a part of the dysfunction that surrounds her.
As an adult, Kelly is drawn to the thornier truths of her own family history. To piece together the sad narrative of her mother's life and death, Kelly goes back to the beginning - to a mother she never knew, a 30-year-old cold case, and two of Los Angeles' most notorious murderers.
Unflinchingly raw and vividly drawn, We Are All Shipwrecks is a memoir of an unconventional childhood and one woman's courageous journey to the knowledge that where you come from isn't always who you are.
Author bio: Kelly Carlisle's personal essays have appeared in the New England Review, Salon.com, Ploughshares, and more. She has a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska and lives with her family in Texas, where she is an assistant professor at Trinity University. Follow her on Twitter @ProfKGC.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Heather Haynes on 12-28-17
I’ve never really listened to memoirs, but this was lovely
This was probably the first memoir I’ve ever read. If all memoirs are like this then I’m a fan! I found listening to Kelly’s story fascinating. Her youth and young adult life was very interesting. The author uses much detail and I think everyone can relate to her experiences and memories from childhood. What happened to her mother is tragic, yet she emerges happy and strong from the experience.
By W. Scott Mize on 12-02-17
A memoir far better than fiction.
If you could sum up We Are All Shipwrecks in three words, what would they be?
What other book might you compare We Are All Shipwrecks to and why?
Her life story could have been composed by Kurt Vonnegut.
What does Andrea Gallo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
She is honest and engaging, and closely resembles the author's voice. I heard Mrs. Carlisle at a reading and knew I wanted to listen to this story.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
A perfectly unperfect life and the journey to happiness.
Any additional comments?
I am still in awe of Kelly Carlisle's raw honesty, pervading hope, and tenacity.