Stepping Back from the Ledge: A Daughter's Search for Truth and Renewal (Hardcover)
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In this “seismically moving memoir” (The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice), one woman asks a seemingly impossible question in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide: How do you mourn a loved one as you repair the injuries they inflicted?
“Laura Trujillo resurfaces from the dark ‘sub-basement’ of despair with assurances for us all: There is hope. There is healing. Always, there is love. This book will save lives.”—Connie Schultz, author of The Daughters of Erietown
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker
Laura Trujillo had been close to her mother for most of her adult life, raising her four children within a few miles of their beloved grandmother’s Phoenix home. But just three months after moving her young family to Cincinnati for a new job, Laura receives shocking news: Her mother had taken her own life—by jumping off a ledge into the Grand Canyon, a place Laura knew her mother had always loved.
Laura and her mother had shared a profound and special bond, yet each had also kept from the other the deepest truths about their lives. As an adult, Laura finally broke her silence about the sexual abuse she had suffered as a teenager at the hands of her stepfather—a secret Laura had buried to protect her mother. After her mother’s death, Laura embarks on an emotional odyssey, searching for clues that could explain the depression, intergenerational trauma, and shared heartbreaks in her family. When she returns to the Grand Canyon, it becomes an oasis that nurtures Laura’s search for redemption and peace. As Laura wrestles with her feelings, she forges a new path forward.
Moving and intimate, powerfully told, Stepping Back from the Ledge is a remarkable exploration of the bond between a mother and daughter, and of the hope that can come from facing the truth.
About the Author
Laura Trujillo is the managing editor for Life and Entertainment at USA Today and a former reporter and editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Arizona Republic, and The Oregonian. She does advocacy work on behalf of suicide awareness. She lives with her family in Ohio.
“Moving . . . Trujillo ably describes the pernicious logic of suicidal depression. . . . How the author stepped back from this ledge constitutes the heart of the story. The process is slow, almost imperceptible at first. In a memoir like this, the author must be both scientist and lab rat, painstakingly dissecting her mother’s behavior and her own under duress. When Trujillo struggles to convey the most trying experiences, her inarticulateness becomes a form of eloquence. . . . With suicide, Trujillo writes, ‘only one person “gets” an ending; the rest of us are left with a story abandoned midsentence.’ Fearlessly, Trujillo attempts to complete the sentence. For many who have been touched by suicide, her hard-earned story will be a helpful companion.”—The New York Times Book Review
“In her moving debut memoir, Trujillo goes on a quest of emotional discovery and healing in the wake of her mother’s suicide, looking for clues to explain her family’s heartbreaks and intergenerational trauma.”—USA Today
“Trujillo walks readers through her pain and, by honestly describing it, models self-compassion and comfort.”—Cincinatti Magazine
“A heartfelt, moving memoir about the grief of losing one’s mother and the beauty of finding oneself. Laura Trujillo creates space for necessary conversations, not just around suicide, depression, and abuse, but for the question of how to move forward when we feel paralyzed and unmoored. With its vulnerability and insights, Stepping Back from the Ledge reminds us that we are never alone.”—Maya Shanbhag Lang, author of What We Carry
“Read Laura Trujillo’s fierce, tender, harrowing, and transcendent search for answers where there are none and be forever changed.”—Emily Rapp Black, author of Sanctuary
“In the wake of her mother’s suicide, Laura Trujillo was immersed in roiling waves of grief that threatened to pull her under. With a journalist’s skill for reporting, and a daughter’s need to understand the unknowable, she takes us on a journey into the dark, ‘sub-basement’ of despair. She resurfaces with assurances for us all: There is hope. There is healing. Always, there is love. This book will save lives.”—Connie Schultz, author of The Daughters of Erietown
“A gorgeous and elegiac debut . . . Never once reaching for pat metaphors or an easy conclusion, Trujillo recounts her wrenching path to healing and how she held her family together during unimaginable grief. In the process, she offers an aching and stunning portrait of her fallible but loving mother. . . . This shines a humanizing light on a subject too often relegated to the shadows.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)