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Let the Tornado Come
336 pages; Simon & Schuster
There's a brilliant moment early on in this lyrical memoir, where 30-something Chin is at a stuffy banquet in Massachusetts, failing to hew to conversational expectations (hello, how are you?, what is the weather like?) as a doctor's wife. She mentions to her husband's colleague that she's writing a memoir, and they sniff back, "At your age?" The moment passes, yet Chin thinks, "I could have told him that by the time I was six, I'd known violence the way some kids know bedtime stories." Only after Chin has reached a certain level of stability in her life—her husband has a new job at a hospital, she has the means and time to write—does she begin to suffer from a debilitating series of panic attacks. The result is a heart-wrenching story of her anxiety and anger, and the therapeutic horses that started her on a path of healing—including flashbacks of the abusive home where she grew up and of running away repeatedly. There's a maturity and a wisdom to this memoir, from its braided structure that gracefully threads Chin's painful past with her present troubles, to her beautiful turns of phrase. You feel, along with her, how panic turns her into a shell, separating her from her life and her husband: "He just stood there looking, the way you focus on a thing moving in the woods, trying to understand what it is."
— Elisabeth Donnelly