AWARD-WINNING WRITER: Danielle is the recipient of the 2016 Rona Jaffe award and a 2020 Whiting award finalist.
The ARCHIVE consists of photos, letters, journal entries, calendars and planners, birthday and mother’s day cards, all taken and kept by Danielle’s mother, which Danielle archived.
THEMES: Danielle is writing about survivors guilt, deconstructing the narratives we create of our family or selves, and the sacredness of our family story and traditional knowledge.
“Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller is a journey story we’ve never read before. Geller travels through snippets of her own life and that of her mother’s, creating a narrative where all roads lead to her mother’s home in the Navajo Nation. It’s an honest, intimate, and heart-wrenching memoir that explores fractured family, the damaging effects of alcoholism and poverty, and what it means to seek healing from legacies of trauma. This book gave me chills. Trained as a librarian and archivist, Geller has created a type of archive, a living collection of memories and documents that speak to a life that is at once precisely individualistic while also being universally resonant. Read this book.”—Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Sabrina & Corina
“Dog Flowers pulls the few remaining threads of an unraveled family life. This courageous, honest, desperate, tender, and compelling book tells a daughter’s story of her troubled mother. In Dog Flowers, we learn that a handful of threads can never reweave the blanket of family, or patch up what a mother’s abandonment has torn. What little we learn of Geller’s Navajo mother comes from collaged notes and journal entries, photographs and reportage; it’s a story full of gaps. Which is exactly what’s remarkable about this book: Geller does not seek to make anything whole but herself. She refuses to deal in the tropes of redemption and reconciliation—which just shows how much strength it takes not to judge another’s life or lie about it. Even her return to her mother’s Navajo Nation does not bring about an easy cultural reunion, although it does give us a satisfying sense that while an immediate family can fall apart, an extended family, a tribe, ties a tight web that might just hold.”—Heid E. Erdrich, award-winning poet, author, and editor of the award-winning New Poets of Native Nations
“A Navajo woman’s memoir of family, loss, and self-discovery. [Danielle Geller] takes readers on two parallel journeys: that of her mother, Laureen, who left the Navajo reservation at age nineteen, “almost as soon as she could,” and her own, which begins with her notifying her sister Eileen that their mother was dying…. After Laureen’s death, Geller collected her mother’s belongings, “packed into eight suitcases” and including “her diaries, her photos, and the letters she kept.” Using these personal items, the author expertly weaves her story into Laureen’s…. Geller’s mix of archival research and personal memoir allows readers to see a refreshing variety of perspectives and layers, resulting in an eye-opening, moving narrative. A deftly rendered, powerful story of family, grief, and the search for self.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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