Book Review: Janine Mikosza’s Homesickness is a searing look at displacement and trauma

For many of us, home is where the heart is. A safe environment and the epitome of “warm”. But for Janine Mikosza it was more complicated than that. In his memoirs, Homesickness, she explores the many childhood homes she lived in before she was eighteen.

Mikosza has already published essays and short stories. She brings some of that style to the vignettes in this book. It examines a total of fourteen houses and some of the chapters are quite fragmented – just like memory can be. She uses the plot device to place herself at the heart of the story using the nickname, Jin, and an anonymous interviewer who brings up most of her memories.

There are times when this setup works better than others. For example, when considering the psychology of trauma and the act of remembering should be cathartic, it fits the two-player setup. But, there are other points where things get crowded and it’s like the interviewer acts as a wall between Jin and his readers. It can mean there’s a barrier to what should be quite private and intimate moments.

In this book, we learn that Jin is a talented visual artist. Included here are drawings (mostly floor plans) of his memories of the various houses. This serves as a great reminder of the fallibility of memory. It’s also interesting how these differ from the real thing as she revisits each in turn.

There are many layers to this work. Some readers will be interested in Dark Memories, where she describes the unspeakable. Others may find it traumatic to read about the gaslighting and other acts she endured. Others may still find this a common experience as they too experienced broken trust at a particularly vulnerable time.

Homesickness may appeal to readers who enjoyed The Trauma Cleanser, as it examines some harrowing incidents of the past through the prism of adult memory. Homesickness is a memoir that looks at an identity and a loss. He tells a private story through a very distinctive voice. Homesickness ultimately deifies both gender and your memory expectations.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Homesickness by Janine Mikosza is now available from Ultimo Press. Pick up a copy of Booktopia HERE.

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