Daughter’s memoir originates as an apparition
Amazing grace manifests in the resilience and flourish of the Quinlan kids – all 12 of them, plus two parents and various pets including chickens in the second floor closet. The prologue sets the scene in the old farmhouse where Hope lies in bed recovering from a recent heart attack after giving birth to Paul. One-year old Erin cries from her crib while two-year-old Denise tries to quiet her with her bottle.
Erin Q. Hartman recalls her childhood in her memoir, Hope for Carsonville, because she was told to: “…many nights for two years I woke up to find a small girl standing in my room motioning me to write down what my life felt like.” And Erin did, with honesty and love. The stories swirl around Hope Quinlan, the bright matriarch who loved a drop now and then and whose fierce independence and huge heart guided her offspring through high adventure and low heartbreaking events.
There’s the fire, when the kids were waked in the middle of the night to escape through a 2nd floor window to the roof and line up like birds on a wire waiting for rescue from firemen whose truck was stuck in the sand 100 yards from the house. And there’s the Dry Run where Hope teaches the kids about funerals by attending one where they don’t know the dearly departed. And there’s the New Bike, given as a birthday gift but without seat.
Some of Hartman’s stories are typical of growing up in a large family, some are tragic, including the death of her brother Butch and Hope’s disfiguring burn. But some are hilarious, such as Erin crashing into a State Police car on her way to get her driver’s license. And others rip your heart out, like the road trip with Hope to Pontiac. The striking element of all of Erin’s memories is their complete lack of bitterness, judgment, or resentfulness. Despite a gritty childhood with a flawed mother, Erin Q. Hartman gives us only the love and respect for Hope that Hope gave to her children.
Hope for Carsonville: A Daughter’s Memoir
By Erin Q. Hartman