The Long Tail of Trauma: A Memoir

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Elizabeth Wilcox has a lot she doesn’t understand. Why does her mother buy Ferragamo shoes after she goes bankrupt? Why won’t her grandmother ever discuss the past? Why does Elizabeth feel so disconnected from her own children? Wilcox’s memoir, The Long Tail of Trauma, uses her family’s unique history to explore the inter-generational effects of childhood trauma. Her grandmother, Violet, was displaced during World War I at age six, while her mother, Barbara, was separated from her parents during World War II at age three. Unfortunately, Wilcox has trouble depicting Violet’s and Barbara’s stories and integrating them with her own.

Wilcox relates her own dysfunctional relationship with Barbara in the first person – no doubt why the book is classified as “memoir” – but narrates Barbara’s and Violet’s stories in the third person. She admits she’s fictionalized parts of Violet’s childhood, and we suspect some of Barbara’s might also be imaginary, given what Wilcox reveals about her mother’s tendency to exaggerate and conceal. While all these threads could be intriguing if developed separately, they’re jarring when combined in a single book and labeled “nonfiction.” The Long Tail of Trauma may interest some readers patient enough to untangle its winding narratives, but most would be better served looking for purely psychological or historical memoirs.

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Author Elizabeth Wilcox
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 266 pages
Publisher Green Place Books
Publish Date 2020-11-11
ISBN 9781950584628 Buy this Book
Issue November 2020
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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