Stray: Memoir of a Runaway from Canadian Tanya Marquardt is "the true story of a girl who runs away and finds herself." I am invariably drawn to memoirs and the cover of Stray immediately caught my eye - there's so much in that photo.
Stray opens in 1995. Tanya is sixteen and has just run away from her mother and stepfather's home. We learn some of the details of her past and what has led to this exodus -an alcoholic father, a violent home, a mother who lived with her two children in this dysfunctional relationship longer than she should have. By the time her mother makes a move to get out, fourteen year old Tanya has already forged an intimate relationship with alcohol.
"Drinking booze became a marathon, and each vodka poured down my gullet felt like a lifesaving elixir, making me feel intensely, tricking me into thinking I was getting in touch with who I really was. "
Stray details the time from walking out that door to Marquardt's acceptance at college - and the turbulent years in between. Tanya finds a sense of family and security with others living on the fringes of society, from the 'wrong' side of Port Alberni to the underground Goth scene in Vancouver's early nineties.
Stray reads like a journal or diary. Putting your life to paper is so intimate, revealing details, baring your life for others to see. Loss, regrets, hopes, dreams - and reality. I am always so appreciative of an author sharing something so personal with strangers.
I thought about the title. As a verb, stray is defined as "to move away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place" and as an adjective, 'to wander off, go astray, get separated, get lost." Both descriptions seem to capture Marquardt's memoir of those years.
Stray does only cover only a short period of time. I had become caught up in Marquardt's story and would have loved to see how she ended up where she is today. That being said, I really enjoyed Stray. Marquardt's writing is raw and engaging. Read an excerpt of Stray.