A funny and moving memoir about a daughter’s turbulent relationship with her mother – and how a child of one’s own can turn everything upside down.
‘Life is a series of losses. I’ve decided to be very zen about it. I have lost two husbands, my parents, my brother, countless friends; it is just one loss after another. You might as well get used it.’ So muses the author’s mother in this poignant and humorous memoir about mothers and daughters, and the miraculous things that happen when daughters become mothers.
Loss is a way of life for both Catherine L. Burns and her mother, but where it made the daughter ravenous for contact, it made the mother lose her appetite for people. While the two always had a fierce attachment, by turns intimate and tumultuous, decades of fractious and contentious and frustrating interactions found a reprieve after the birth of Catherine’s daughter, Olive. Witty and direct, weaving back and forth in time, the book charts the transformation of this volatile and unique mother-daughter relationship from longing to connection.
A book about love, mortality, and the nature of family bonds, ‘It Hit Me Like A Ton of Bricks’ is a must-read for anyone trying to navigate their way through the distance between their fantasies of love and the realities of family relationships.
‘“It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks” is written with such disarming honesty that it would be uncomfortably unsettling if it weren't tempered by equal doses of stunning wit. The story sneaks up on you and grabs you and before you know it, it's tomorrow morning. Burns can flat out write and she does it with her eyes wide open, foot flat on the pedal and all the windows down – it’s an exhilarating read. I couldn’t find a word out of place.’ Alexandra Fuller, author of ‘Don'’ Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight’
‘From the very first sentence of Catherine Burns’ simultaneously very funny and very poignant book, it is apparent that we are in assured hands. The ambivalence, closeness, and fractious bond of mothers and daughters has rarely been so keenly and beautifully observed. Filled with moments of hilarity and heartbreak, any reader, male or female, who has ever had a mother, will find here vindication and finely calibrated sympathy. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that Burns is an indelible literary presence; anyone who has had the privilege to see her act cannot forget her. But still, what an accomplishment it is to find that, on paper, she is also possessed of that rarest and most yearned – for of qualities: a voice.’ David Rakoff
About the author
Catherine L. Burns is a successful actress and producer – having appeared as a regular character on the TV show Malcolm in the Middle as well as starring in feature films such as ‘Pushing Tin’ and, more recently, ‘Keeping the Faith’ with Ben Stiller. ‘It Hit Me Like A Ton of Bricks’ is her first book.
Actress Burns, who has appeared on E.R. and Law and Order, has written a funny, touching mother and daughter memoir. Born in 1961 and nine when her father died, Burns felt she got no sympathy from her mother, who worried that her daughter would use people's pity to become manipulative. Besides, her mother said, "where is it written you have to be happy." As a teen, Burns suspected her mother was trying to get rid of her shipping her off to live with older step-siblings, sending her to boarding school so she could have fun with her male friends. Surviving drugs, sex and suicidal behavior, Burns went to college, started an acting career, married, had a child, divorced and discovered her mother again. The full circle of the maternal bond is what makes this memoir satisfying; readers see the daughter who schemed to get the attention of the mother whom she believed was self-centered become a mother herself and confront her own daughter's control ploys. When Burns tells her mom what readers have long suspected that her mother is her best friend her mother decides she herself is "finished being crazy" and they're both, finally, able to relax together.