Cal’s mother is a nightmare. She is mad, she is a drunk, she’s destroyed his life until all he can do is try to save himself. So he runs-he leaves her to live with his uncle, to have a “normal” life. Only there’s no such thing as a normal life, and it turns out he wouldn’t much like one anyway. He ends up getting involved with a man named Arthur, and his re-enactor knights. But his mother is still there, and he has abandoned her for his life with his uncle–and his life with the knights.
Every parent makes mistakes. There’s not such thing as a parent with a perfect track record, just as there’s no such thing as a perfect child. Parents have to come to terms with their mistakes. And children, in order to move forward with their lives, have to forgive them. Where there’s love–if there’s love–there can be forgiveness.
But this story goes deeper than coming to terms with forgiving our parents. Cal’s sense of self is not completely separate from his mother. Perhaps it never will be. He is what his mother made him to be, the person his mother made him to be. She is both his destroyer and his creator–but she is also in turn destroyed and created by him. Forgiving her, and forgiving himself for the person he’s become, are not different things at all.
It’s a spectacular, painful, and achingly beautiful book.