"A powerful, deeply moving testament to both the ties of family and the taut fragility of memory's plumb-line. Shelley, Harvey, Lil and Frank felt so real that it seemed as if I had known them for many years; this book stayed with me well beyond the last page." —Daniel Mason, author of The Winter Soldier
We can never really know our parents; we can only construct their lives from our limited perspective, and from the bits and pieces we are left with. And sometimes we don’t need to know them, and sometimes the most charitable thing they can do is to leave us with a version of themselves that we can handle.
Lil and Frank married young, and were launched into their courtship and marriage when they learned that they’d both lost a parent at a young age. But over time, that marriage grew and deepened and strengthened, with each harboring their secrets from one another, each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost. Now that they’ve left Boston and retired to North Carolina, Lil is determined to leave a history, and a story, behind for their children, but she’s doing it in her own way, and in ways that Frank might not want others to see. Meanwhile, Frank is determined to find what he can of what his father left behind at a house on the outskirts of town, now being rented by a young single mother, Shelley. But his repeated visits to Shelley’s house trigger her own fears, as well as memories that she’d rather leave buried. Because after all, not all parents are ones you want to remember.
In a deeply layered and wise novel, Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around you, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history, and of memory.