Departure Stories: Betty Crocker Made Matzoh Balls (and Other Lies)

Product Details
Indiana University Press
Publish Date
5.8 X 8.8 X 0.6 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author

Elisa Bernick is a writer and journalist in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of The Family Sabbatical Handbook: The Budget Guide to Living Abroad With Your Family.


"In this thoughtful and thought-provoking memoir, Bernick reveals strengths inherent in resilience, while offering up just the right touches of humor and hope. A must-read for those needing a blueprint for how to bring an unwavering eye to difficult relationships in order to find the truth that rests not merely in the past but within ourselves."--Kate St. Vincent Vogl, author of Lost & Found: A Memoir of Mothers

"This is a tough/tender, sad/hopeful book about the history we share with those close to us and that which we share with the world, and how that history is shaped by our own memories. Elisa Bernick tells the story of her fraught family with depth and humor and a sense of forgiveness that is an inspiration."--Lorna Landvik, author of Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes), and Last Circle of Love

"If you've ever wondered what "Minnesota Nice" is, go get a copy of Elisa Bernick's Departure Stories! Bernick deftly weaves personal narrative and history in this coming-of-age memoir about growing up Jewish in a Minneapolis suburb, where she felt both different and invisible, "belonging and not belonging." But when Elisa's parents divorce (long before that was acceptable) and she's uprooted to Southern California, she taps into her own resilience and the ability to craft a different story for herself. Full of humor and heartbreak, Departure Stories is a delightful memoir that uncovers larger truths about memory, identity, family and the lengths we will go to find our way home."--Kate Hopper, author of Ready for Air and Use Your Words

"Elisa Bernick's Departure Stories is a marvel of a memoir. Her alternately heartbreaking and hilarious prose both glimmers and cuts, her storytelling as knowing as a Coen brothers film about the tragicomic weirdness of growing up as a Jewish kid on the prairie in the 1960s and 70s. Toss into the narrative the Bernicks--a family as dysfunctional as a dystopian Brady Bunch--and one finds an absolutely unique narrative that forcefully strikes both the heart and head. Whether recalling the perhaps not-so-clueless neighbor dropping off a nice ham, or over-hearing her mother making love to a man not Elisa's father, Bernick delights even in her darkest recollections."--Neal Karlen, author of This Thing Called Life: Prince's Odyssey On and Off the Record

"Elisa Bernick's compelling memoir is an insightful exploration of abandonment and abuse. As a child of a minority Jewish family in her Minnesota town, Bernick grapples with her status as a religious and social outcast, and her mother's cruelties and neglect. But make no mistake, this superb, fascinating memoir is not a typical tale of a woeful upbringing. There is no self-pity on these pages. Its genius arises out of Bernick's interrogation of how a personal narrative creates identity. Through her hopeful, optimistic interpretation of the Passover story, Bernick concludes that reinventing our narratives allows us to break free from victimhood and find a meaningful and fulfilling way to live our lives."--Leslie Schwartz, author of The Lost Chapters

"Bernick's nimble storytelling has much to love. It's an insightful and spot-on mélange of perfectly preserved stories on place, history, and family."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A moving memoir by a Minnesota native about her complicated childhood, and her complicated mother."--StarTribune

"Departure Stories is an inviting, deeply poignant first memoir that offers an intergenerational smorgasbord of well-balanced, well-portioned personal stories, anecdotes, jokes, Jewish history and heritage--and insight."--Reading Between the Lines

"Departure Stories is an informative, moving, and uplifting story of resilience and forgiveness--and the power of storytelling"--By the Book BTX

"Bernick's storytelling is ambitious and intellectually stimulating"--Jamie Wendt, Jewish Book Council

"A fascinating and compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover."--Midwest Book Reviews