Please join us on Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 7:00 PM as we welcome author Becky Ellis for a discussion of her new memoir, LITTLE AVALANCHES. Becky will be in conversation with Janine Urbaniak Reid, author of THE OPPOSITE OF CERTAINTY.
This event will be in person at the store at 6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland, CA 94611.
A daughter’s quest for truth. A soldier’s fight for survival. Their shared search for understanding.
Little Avalanches is a gorgeously written memoir of breathtaking scope that propels readers from the beaches of California in the early ‘70s to the battlefields of World War II.
As a young girl, Becky is forced to hide from phantom Nazis, subjected to dental procedures without pain medication, and torn from her mother again and again. Growing up in the shadow of her father’s PTSD, she wants to know what is wrong but knows not to ask.
Her father won’t talk about being a Timberwolf, a unit of specially trained night fighters that went into combat first and experienced a 300 percent casualty rate. He returns home with thirteen medals, including a Silver Star, and becomes a doctor and well-respected member of the community, but is haunted by his past.
Seeing only his explosive and often dangerous personality, Becky distances herself from the man she wants to love. Yet on the eve of his ninetieth birthday, when Becky looks at the vulnerable man he’s become, something shifts, and she asks about the war. He breaks seventy years of silence, offering an unfiltered account of war without glory and revealing the extent of the trauma he’s endured. She spends the next several years interviewing, researching, and ultimately understanding the demons she inherited.
Because his story is incomplete without hers, and hers is inconceivable without his, Ellis offers both, as well as their year-long aching conversation marked by moments of redeeming grace. With compassionate, unflinching writing, Little Avalanches reminds us that we are profoundly shaped by the secrets we keep and forever changed by the stories we share.
About the Author
Becky Ellis is a Timberwolf Pup. The daughter of a highly decorated World War II combat sergeant, she is a veteran of a war fought at home. She earned a BA in English Literature at UC Berkeley and has over twenty years of experience in the publishing industry. She teaches writing in Portland, Oregon, where she lives, plays, and has raised three daughters. Little Avalanches is her debut memoir.
“We children of World War II combat veterans are all sisters and brothers of the same father. That father was dark, brooding, sometimes violent. Countless books on that war have focused on men. In Little Avalanches, we hear from one daughter. Becky Ellis has produced a masterpiece. There’s no other book out there like this—a daughter-father story of pain, and then in the end, redemption.”
— Dale Maharidge, nonfiction Pulitzer Prize winner, and the author of Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War, and the podcast, The Dead Drink