Saturday, May 16, 2009

a life transformed

Shepard, Judy. The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. August 2009. Hudson Street Press. 288p. ISBN: 978-1-59463-057-6. $25.95.

for Library Journal

Ten years after Matthew Shepard was beaten for being gay and left for dead, his mother Judy has revisited the tragedy in this brave and sobering memoir. As a mother and an unassuming thought leader, Shepard writes with elegant humility. Tracing the ordinary parenting choices she and her husband made for Matthew and his brother Logan, Shepard reevaluates her family's path in an earnest bid to share her life experience with those "who live in places where I'm not invited to speak." Her accounts of their challenging family dynamics are so everyday, in fact, that the narrative inflicts emotional whiplash once the ground begins to blur by and the grisly murder comes up so fast.
Shepard wrestles with her early preconceptions, but is careful to avoid any martyrdom of her reckless wild child. The Meaning of Matthew is all the more remarkable for the understated and deliberate tone taken as Shepard wades in deep to do the unthinkable--to suggest how the world has changed since she survived the violent death of her own child. Highly recommended for all libraries. Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA