The Future Tense of Joy: A Memoir

Although Jessica Teich had an enviable life, with a devoted husband, two beautiful young daughters, a dog, a garden and plenty to read, she was discontent, "floating in a spiritual limbo," obsessed with fears and memories of the abuse she suffered as an adolescent. In The Future Tense of Joy, Teich openly acknowledges her anxieties and shares how reading the obituary of Lacey Cooper-Reynolds--whom she had never met--spurred her to explore the woman's life and, in doing so, understand her own.

"In her buried heart, I could hear an echo of my own," Teich writes. Like her, Lacey was a Rhodes Scholar, living in California. She was brilliant and well loved, and her suicide shocked her family and friends. Teich Googled Lacey and began talking to the woman's friends and family, wondering what sadness led her to take her life, comparing her own grief with Lacey's, and pondering whether they shared feelings of inadequacy, phobias and anxieties. As a teenager, Teich was a dancer in a company that included a man who molested and beat her. Nobody came to her aid, and fear and shame kept her silent. She fled and later built a career as a literary manager, and enjoyed a loving marriage. But motherhood and fear for her daughters' well-being tightened "this knot of longing and betrayal" rooted in the violence she had endured.

In this unusual memoir/mystery, Teich uses her considerable academic and writing talents to craft a credible and well-rounded portrait of Lacey, while gaining the confidence to examine and respect her own story--and to forgive the past and anticipate the future. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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