My Father's Suitcase

Mary Garden

My Father's Suitcase
Mary Garden
1 May 2024

My Father’s Suitcase

Mary Garden

A deeply personal and heartbreaking memoir that explores the troubled relationship between Mary Garden and her younger sister, Anna, who 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. And she 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'. It causes far-reaching, long-lasting harm.

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