I get excited at the prospect of a fresh read. When I spied this title, I immediately honed in on Dorothy Preston’s memoir. It is chocked with a full spectrum of emotions.
Getting Off the Radiator is an emotionally wrenching read. Preston is the youngest of seven siblings. Her family union was solid until her father walked out. It not only ruptured the family’s emotional and financial fabric, but it also shattered her mother. The reverberations were felt for decades.
Preston is candid and unabashed in sharing her family’s downward spiral into dysfunction. Her mother mostly became incapacitated while the house eroded into dereliction. Her siblings coped in myriad of self-destructive measures, as did the author. It was heartbreaking to read the effects of her father’s abandonment on the entire family.
Environment plays a significant role in a person’s attitudes and actions. Preston rode the wave of wild child, then settled down with a family. However, she eventually yielded to internal demons that threatened to devour her stability. I had much empathy, even when she made poor choices, because she recognized the behavioral patterns as similar to her parents.
Preston proffers no excuses but many apologies, especially to her children, for past decisions. Her reason for writing the book is to offer hope for anyone else who has traveled a path of hardship and chaos. Getting Off the Radiator is not just a memoir, but it’s also a story of a fractured family. The writing is engrossing, punctuated with many family photos that allow readers’ visualization to coincide with text to form a nuanced perspective.