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Searching for Mercy Street

My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton

List Price: $15.95

April 1, 2011 | Paperback | 6x 9, 320 Pages | ISBN 9781582437446
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“Powerful and affecting... a candid, often painful depiction of a daughter’s struggles to come to terms with her powerful and emotionally troubled mother.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Linda Gray Sexton’s critically acclaimed memoir is an honest, unsparing account of the anguish and fierce love that bound a brilliant, difficult mother and the daughter she left behind. Linda Sexton was twenty-one when her mother killed herself, and now she looks back, remembers, and tries to come to terms with her mother’s life.

Life with Anne was a wild mixture of suicidal depression and manic happiness, inappropriate behavior and midnight trips to the psychiatric ward. Anne taught Linda how to write, how to see, how to imagine—and only Linda could have written a book that captures so vividly the intimate details and lingering emotions of their life together. Searching for Mercy Street speaks to everyone who admires Anne Sexton and to every daughter or son who knows the pain of an imperfect childhood. This beautiful trade paperback edition includes a new introduction by the author.

LINDA GRAY SEXTON is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anne Sexton. She has written four novels, and her second memoir, Half in Love, was published by Counterpoint in January 2011. She lives in California. For more information, visit


“Powerful and affecting… a candid, often painful depiction of a daughter’s struggles to come to terms with her powerful and emotionally troubled mother.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“Heroic.” —Newsday

“A courageous journey into the dark terrain of remembering, forgiving, and healing through telling—a trait that is her birthright.” —People

“Sexton has written about intense personal conflicts, evoked strong emotion, and stayed true to it. The saga of this daughter and her mother is inherently fascinating.” —Chicago Tribune

“One never doubts that Linda Gray Sexton has told us the truth.” —New York Times Book Review

“This cathartic and anguish-filled book spares no details of the mother’s selfish and difficult personality or her intense and fortifying love.” —Library Journal

“In deceptively fluid prose, Linda explores her complex relationship to her mother and strips raw the nerves of a troubled family.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“A groundbreaking memoir that marks a turning point, both for Linda Sexton’s career as a writer and for the study of women’s psychology.” —Portland Oregonian

“This memoir has an urgency about it and it is to Sexton’s credit as an honest and largely unself-serving narrator that throughout she has chosen to forgo the primitive gratification of scrawling over the picture of her childish mother-worship with fat black crayon; instead she continues to add strokes of color and lightness to an ever-darkening portrait. By the book’s end she has made her way valiantly back to her mother, passing through the portals of rage and despair before she glimpses the possibility of separating out Anne Sexton’s perverse influence from her legacy of delight in words and experience… Searching for Mercy Street is suffused with a complicated kind of love.” —The New Yorker

“In this spectacular story of a glamorous, talented and beautiful family veering toward disaster, Linda Sexton has broken the code of silence which often surrounds the American home. In her powerful and graceful prose, honed in four novels of her own, she has quietly and lovingly told the story of her mother and the family she loved both too much and too little. Any mother or daughter, any child of an alcoholic parent, anyone who has lived with the all-consuming obsession of a writer with their work, will recognize themselves in this ravishing portrait.” —Susan Cheever, author of American Bloomsbury

“In this deft, beautiful memoir, Sexton covers difficult family territory with unique grace.” —New York Daily News

“One of the most illuminating things here is that careful, industrious Linda—who, as she grows older, bravely fights off her own depressions, headaches, even suicidal thoughts, idolizing ‘normalcy,’ health, and domestic responsibility—seems a far better writer than her mom.” —Washington Post Book World

“Linda Gray Sexton’s exploration is so smart, so well-written, moving, and generous that it transcends the typecasting that could easily have become a trap… Written with grace, precision and, most important, love.” —Los Angeles Times 

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