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Reviewed by Diane Kane for Readers' Favorite
Selling the Family by Nancy Kay Peterson is a collection of poems about relationships and the fragments left behind. As the last living member from a long line of proud Norwegian heritage, Peterson readies the Wisconsin family farm for an estate auction. Peterson has a way with words that cut to the heart. Each poem tells a story of life, treasure, and choice. Keeping Watch is a ghostly tale about trying to avoid the vision of her deceased father; “I am not afraid of him, but of missing him too much.” In another poem, Peterson confides, “The only time I remember looking into Mother’s eyes she lay dying.” Peterson puts words to paper that the heart can’t hold. While sorting through the mementos, Peterson must resign herself to the truth; “All things to be judged equally as saleable or forever worthless.”
In Selling the Family, Nancy Kay Peterson shares anecdotes and tragedies in equal measure. I laughed out loud at the tale of Harold Bowen’s lost ashes in Auctioneers’ Treasure Search. In Without Ceremony, Peterson brings poignant wit to the clump of wildflowers where she sings Amazing Grace while struggling one last time with her sister to release her ashes from the sealed urn. Peterson’s mother’s unsent greeting cards and her brother-in-law’s telephoto lens with the note “never used” are reminiscent of Hemingway’s “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” When Peterson closes the door on the silent, empty rooms of her family homestead, I hear the echo of my own heart’s memories. Selling the Family by Nancy Kay Peterson is a collection of poetry I will revisit and take comfort from again and again.