cover image Land of Enchantment: A Memoir

Land of Enchantment: A Memoir

Leigh Stein. Plume, $22 (224p) ISBN 978-1-101-98267-9

Novelist Stein (The Fallback Plan) is 22 at the onset of this disturbing and heartfelt memoir about an abusive relationship. The author meets Jason, an 18-year-old dead ringer for James Dean, at a theater audition in Chicago in 2007. Soon they are romantically enmeshed and on their way to New Mexico, “the land of enchantment,” where they attempt to support each other’s dreams—his to eventually succeed as an actor, hers to write a novel. In chapters that alternate between the past and more recent years, Stein examines the relationship and its gradual dissolution, tragically ending with her lover’s early death. Stein shares details of her ongoing struggle with depression and poor self-esteem, factors that play into her willingness to be manipulated and oppressed by the unpredictable and sometimes violent Jason, who also suffers from depression and manic outbursts. Long after the romance ends, Stein is haunted by memories, and she reveals the complicated emotional ties that make it difficult for a victim to break free. Stein’s is a brave and poignant coming-of-age story. (Aug.)