Wailing Wall


It isn't the sort of book I'd normally read. I have a lot of books coming across my desk and I buy more books than I have shelving for at home. I get even more press releases emailed to me from publishers and publicists trying to entice me into pleading for a review copy of their latest offerings. The vast majority of those fall in the genre of "self-help" or someone telling a story of suffering and redemption and how you, too, might be redeemed if you only follow these 800 simple steps. No thank you. I'm a very slow reader, the father of four kids, am working to write my own novel, have a full-time job, and, therefore, am very choosey about the time I have to read.

So when I received a copy of Wailing Wall: A Mother's Memoir by Deedra Climer in the mail yesterday, I was ready to resign it to that shelf of redemption that I would never go back to. But I read the first page. And then I read the second. And then I finished the book a couple of hours later.

At only 86 pages, it is slim enough even for me to have finished in one sitting, but its brevity doesn't take away from its punch — this is a firecracker of a book filled with raw emotion.

Climer grew up in North Memphis to a family besotted by drugs and neglect. The daughter of a teenage mother, she would go on to become an unwed, teenage mother as well. But Climer rose above that, eventually getting married (though it ends in divorce), working to support her children, and learning along the way that there is more to life than the fragile web of abuse she grew up in. Tragedy strikes when her son Joshua is thrown from his motorcycle and killed at the age of 23. By this time, Climer is living in Michigan, making a new life with a new husband on an organic farm the couple owns. The book is the tale of her coming home, coming back into the fold of an extended family she'd loved and left, and coming to terms with the death of her only son (she has four daughters as well). 

Climer's storytelling is economical and well-paced as she takes the reader from the past to the present day. It is a heartbreaking tale that searches for redemption, a search that we get the sense is ongoing. It's also the story of family — those we're born into and those we choose — and the unconditional love we call upon in our darkest moments.

Wailing Wall is published through Inkshares, a process I wasn't familiar with. Explaining in the back of the book that they aim to "democratize publishing by having readers select the books we publish," the house has taken up the crowd-funding torch already being carried by independent filmmakers and musicians to have their visions brought to the screen and airwaves. And why not? Without such a vehicle, we may not hear stories like Climer's, which is all of our stories whether we've lost someone dear or not.   

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