My Father's Suitcase

My Father’s Suitcase…A Brief Synopsis

A gripping tale of resilience and survival that offers hope to others who have experienced family violence and suffered at the hands of a sibling.

A deeply personal and heartbreaking memoir that explores the
troubled relationship between Mary Garden and her younger sister, Anna. (Anna died in 2023, after a short illness.)

Mary unpacks her life of growing up in New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s, before making Australia home. She reveals complex layers of intergenerational trauma, including the baggage of her eccentric, deeply flawed father and the secret her mother kept from all of them, revealed only after her death. Mary deals movingly with her sister’s long battle with mental illness and how she once saved Anna’s life.

As she unravels these narratives, Mary touches on the guilt and shame familiar to anyone who has had to deal with secrets, violence and ‘madness’ in their family. She also shines a light on sibling abuse, the most common form of abuse in the context of family violence ‒ occurring up to five times as frequently as spousal or parental child abuse ‒ although it is often dismissed as ‘sibling rivalry’. This form of abuse causes far-reaching, long-lasting harm and trauma.

‘Writing with insight, restraint and compassion, Mary Garden shines a clear, unflinching light on her own family, and herself.’ – Maurice Gee

‘Mary Garden roars against injustice … a raw and unguarded account of a reckoning, a story a lifetime in the making.’ – Michelle Tom, author of Ten Thousand Aftershocks

‘With searing honesty, Mary Garden combines memoir and deep research to explore the complex nature of sibling relationships.’ – Nicole Madigan, author of Obsessed

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