This Is How You Say Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir by Victoria Loustalot (St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 240 pages)
Everyone I dated felt like a hotel room – clean, organized, empty and everyone the same. Nothing less, nothing more.
Victoria Loustalot lost her father, who’d been living a double life, at the age of 11. Her bedridden and HIV-infected parent died at the age of 44. Three years before his death he offered her a trip around the world, with stops in Cambodia, Stockholm and Paris (places that had been important in his life). In this memoir Loustalot embarks on a trek to visit Angor Wat, Stockholm and Paris as an adult in an attempt to find the man she never quite knew: “Everything I was seeing I imagined my father saw, too.”
The book will appeal to those who have traveled to a new place and found it to be magical – “I was unprepared for how (the towers at Angor Wat) were going to make me feel.” What’s a bit strange is that the writer, who grew up in Sacramento, has little love for the California valley town. She describes Sacramento winters as “wet and dark” and adds that her father “had no love” for the place.
In the end, Loustalot may not have come closer to locating her mysterious father’s true character, but she does complete a fulfilling journey of self-discovery. This memoir may lead some readers to fashion a similar journey.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Note: Loustalot begins her account by describing how hard it was for her to learn to smile. There’s a reserve about her. It’s this reserve that keeps this entertaining true story from becoming a completely engaging and enthralling account.