One of our recommended books is And Now I Spill the Family Secrets by Margaret Kimball

AND NOW I SPILL THE FAMILY SECRETS


In the spirit of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Margaret Kimball’s And Now I Spill the Family Secrets begins in the aftermath of a tragedy.

In 1988, when Kimball is only four years old, her mother attempts suicide on Mother’s Day—and this becomes one of many things Kimball’s family never speaks about. As she searches for answers nearly thirty years later, Kimball embarks on a thrilling visual journey into the secrets her family has kept for decades.

Using old diary entries,

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In the spirit of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Margaret Kimball’s And Now I Spill the Family Secrets begins in the aftermath of a tragedy.

In 1988, when Kimball is only four years old, her mother attempts suicide on Mother’s Day—and this becomes one of many things Kimball’s family never speaks about. As she searches for answers nearly thirty years later, Kimball embarks on a thrilling visual journey into the secrets her family has kept for decades.

Using old diary entries, hospital records, home videos, and other archives, Margaret pieces together a narrative map of her childhood—her mother’s bipolar disorder, her grandmother’s institutionalization, and her brother’s increasing struggles—in an attempt to understand what no one likes to talk about: the fractures in her family.

Both a coming-of-age story about family dysfunction and a reflection on mental health, And Now I Spill the Family Secrets is funny, poignant, and deeply inspiring in its portrayal of what drives a family apart and what keeps them together.

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  • HarperOne
  • Paperback
  • April 2021
  • 288 Pages
  • 9780063007444

Buy the Book

$18.99

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About Margaret Kimball

Margaret Kimball is the author of And Now I Spill the Family SecretsMargaret Kimball is an illustrator and writer whose graphic essays have appeared in Ecotone, Black Warrior Review, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere. Her work has been listed as Notable in Best American Comics and she’s been in residence at both Yaddo and MacDowell. Her illustration clients include Smithsonian Magazine, Bravery, Ogilvy, and many major publishers, among others. She lives with her family in Indianapolis.

Praise

“With scalpel-sharp writing and tidy drawings, Kimball takes on a detective-like rigor as she unthreads her mother’s bipolar disorder and suicide attempts, her parents’ divorce, and the family history leading up to these defining events….A riveting reality to inhabit.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An extraordinarily honest look at life behind closed suburban doors, and with a sublimely redemptive conclusion. A welcome debut that will leave readers eager for a successor—and soon.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“An astonishing, loving, resonant chronicle of the hard and necessary work to make sense of the consciousness in ourselves and in our families.” — Booklist (starred review)

“An empathetic, uncommonly nuanced, and thoroughly brilliant family saga presented with real daring and true artistry.” — Library Journal (starred review)

Discussion Questions

1. If given the opportunity, would you choose to investigate your family history and/or trauma? Discuss whether you believe unearthing these mysteries would bring a sense of healing or enforce deeper shame.

2. Margaret illustrates her thought process regarding her family’s circumstances through the years, from early childhood to grown adulthood. Reflect on the differences and similarities between how she copes as an adult and as a child. What insights can we glean about a child’s personal experience through family trauma with the help of this re-telling? In what ways do you process family difficulties differently at this time, compared to how you might have coped in earlier ages?

3. Why do you believe it was that the author’s family felt it was best not to talk about topics like mental health? How would talking about these subjects benefit a family, and in what ways might it be detrimental? Has mental health been an open topic to discuss with your family? Or can you relate to the author in her need to push for answers?

4. While some may cope with troubling memories by forgetting, Margaret uses documentation as a tool to help her revisit and recreate new meaning out of those experiences. How might creating this book help both her and her family move forward from a past not processed? Share a personal experience where new meaning and purpose were forged out of an unsettling time.

5. On page 197, the author shares, “Logic played no role in any of this. Mental illness defies logic.” Do you have an experience or memory that could help testify in support of this statement? What preconceived notions about mental illness did you have prior to starting this book? How have those ideas shifted and changed, if at all, after finishing it?

6. When it came to supporting Ted, Margaret, Zach, and their father agreed that the highest priority was to help him feel accepted. How can accepting someone prove more of a help than trying to fix them? In the light of this, what significance does the interview that Margaret conducts with Ted hold?

7. In what way is Margaret’s story more than just of her own – more than just of her family’s own? Mental illness, divorce, and challenging family dynamics are struggles more common than a typical household would like to admit. Consider the reasons why a story like this is an important one to share.

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