Splinters by Leslie Jamison

Another Kind of Love Story

Leslie Jamison, the critically acclaimed author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering returns with a courageous and poignant memoir about motherhood, friendship and grief. 

Written in her signature raw prose, readers follow Jamison in the aftermath of a divorce as she cares for her daughter and navigates life as a single mother. She lays bare the realities of juggling a newborn with the demands of her work as a writer and teacher.

In Splinters, Jamison often returns to the past, as she describes the “encompassing, consuming, life-expanding” relationship with her ex-husband, and the boundless love she feels for her mother and daughter. She captures simple yet profoundly beautiful vignettes that offer glimpses into their lives.

Writing about her mother, “when [she] arrived from California, I sat there on the starched sheets holding my baby, and my mother held me, and I cried uncontrollably, because I finally understood how much she loved me, and I could hardly stand the grace of it.” She continues, “with her, I was finally home. It was okay to fall apart.” To be granted access to these intimate and unfiltered moments shared among three generations of women is a gift in itself.

The pressure to be enough is a recurring theme in this work. How to be a good daughter, a good mother, a good partner, a good friend. How to do everything all at once while still proving the fundamental right to exist. “Being alive involved constantly justifying why I deserved to be alive, as if I were building a bridge one rung at a time across a vast chasm,” she writes.

Jamison, who has been defined as “dazzlingly brilliant” is at her most vulnerable in Splinters, and her words have the power to totally consume the reader, leaving a lasting effect. Described as “an unstoppable force of nature” by Ben George, her Editor at Little, Brown, I’ve never encountered another writer like her.

“One of the lessons I kept learning,” Jamison writes, is “the difference between the story of love and the texture of living it; between the story of motherhood and the texture of living it, the story of addiction and the texture of living it, the story of empathy and the texture of living it.”

Leslie Jamison by Grace Ann Leadbeater

Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams; the collection of essays Make It Scream, Make It Burn, a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award; and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She writes for numerous publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Times, Harper’s, and the New York Review of Books. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn.

Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story by Leslie Jamison is available for purchase in hardcover, e-book and audiobook. Check Bookshop.org or Libro.fm to find a copy near you. 

Avocado Diaries is part of the Bookshop.org affiliate program and may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.