Named one of Esquire's "Best Nonfiction Books of 2018"
"Sharp and searching...a potent look at the fraught, painful, and complicated relationship between parents and children, and the mysteries — revelatory, difficult — that can and cannot be solved."
— Boston Globe
Anya Yurchyshyn grew up in a narrow townhouse in Boston, every corner filled with the souvenirs of her parents’ adventurous international travels. On their trips to Egypt, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, her mother, Anita, and her father, George, lived an entirely separate life from the one they led as the parents of Anya and her sister – one that Anya never saw. The parents she knew were a brittle, manipulative alcoholic and a short-tempered disciplinarian: people she imagined had never been in love.
When she was sixteen, Anya’s father was killed in a car accident in Ukraine. At thirty-two, she became an orphan when her mother drank herself to death. As she was cleaning out her childhood home, she suddenly discovered a trove of old letters, photographs, and journals hidden in the debris of her mother’s life. These lost documents told a very different story than the one she’d believed to be true – of a forbidden romance; of a loving marriage, and the loss of a child. With these revelations in hand, Anya undertook an investigation, interviewing relatives and family friends, traveling to Wales and Ukraine, and delving deeply into her own difficult history in search of the truth, even uncovering the real circumstances of her father’s death – not an accident, perhaps, but something more sinister.
In this inspiring and unflinchingly honest debut memoir, Anya interrogates her memories of her family and examines what it means to be our parents’ children. What do we inherit, and what can we choose to leave behind? How do we escape the ghosts of someone else’s past? And can we learn to love our parents not as our parents, but simply as people? Universal and personal; heartbreaking and redemptive, My Dead Parents helps us to see why sometimes those who love us best hurt us most.