Fuse by Hollay Ghadery

In the second chapter of Fuse, Hollay Ghadery’s therapist tells her that multiracial people are more prone to anxiety disorders because of their fragmented sense of self. I read this chapter and my jaw dropped. My own experience as a young, multiracial woman was certainly confusing, especially because I didn’t have access to many stories that reflected my experience, and I didn’t know if such stories even existed. I didn’t really see a lot of mixed-race representation in the books I read, growing up. And even though the genre of mixed-race writing is growing, I’m still hungry for literature about multiracial experiences; so, I jumped at the chance to read Fuse. In this book, I found validation and solidarity in my own experience. I wish I had read it ten years ago.

“One of the most striking aspects of the book is Ghadery’s raw honesty, especially about her anger.”

Fuse can be loosely defined as a memoir; in its chapters, Ghadery delves into her experiences of growing up in a biracial, bicultural family (with white European and Iranian heritage) with high expectations of their only daughter. She describes her ongoing management of mental health issues and addiction, and the way her relationship with these struggles changed and evolved when she became a mother. Amid these meditations are memories of her Iranian aunts visiting for a summer, the clothes her mother made for her as a child, and her bid for freedom when she went away to university. The book’s non-linear structure is reflective of its themes: memory exists alongside our present selves, and progress is rarely linear. Fuse is carefully written, full of emotion, and deep personal reflection.

One of the most striking aspects of the book is Ghadery’s raw honesty, especially about her anger. In the first chapter, she recalls a trip to the movies to see Wonder Woman with her young daughter. Ghadery is disappointed and frustrated at the flimsiness of the character: “Superheroes are supposed to celebrate the triumphs of the underdog—the mis- and under-represented—and this Wonder Woman only does this in part. She’s a woman, yes, but there’s no real representation with this casting choice. We need to be seeing other bodies. Hearing other voices” (11). These strong emotions are as refreshing to see in the book as they are validating: Ghadery not only offers a commentary about the media’s preference for tiny, light-skinned women but also reminds us that her own angry reaction to the casting is valid and subversive. Women are not supposed to be angry. They are supposed to move on from trauma, push their personal issues aside, accommodate men (whether family members or strangers). These themes are taken up repeatedly in the book, especially when Ghadery describes her complex relationship with her father and the eating disorders she lives with. Her frankness cuts through the book, making her a relatable and accessible narrator.

Creative non-fiction is my favourite genre; I love a book that offers a new perspective and a dive inside the author’s memories. I loved Fuse. Ghadery’s writing is raw and beautiful; the tiny details she includes in each story bring you closer to her, and she bravely allows you in. She offers a unique and much-needed perspective on multiraciality and her experience of a bi-cultural life, as well as mental health and addiction, motherhood, and personal growth. I highly recommend it.

Hollay Ghadery is a writer living in small-town Ontario. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in various literary journals, including The Malahat Review, Room, Grain and The Fiddlehead. In 2004, she graduated from Queen’s University with her BAH in English Literature, and in 2007, she graduated from the University of Guelph with her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is the recipient of the Constance Rooke Scholarship in Creative Writing, as well as Ontario Arts Council grants for her poetry and non-fiction. Hollay is the force behind River Street Writing—a collective of freelance writers who create exceptional content and provide creative consultancy services for personal and professional projects. Learn more about them at www.riverstreetwriting.com.

  • Publisher : Guernica Editions (May 1 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 150 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1771835923
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1771835923

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Rachel Fernandes was raised in Ottawa, where she completed her Honours BA and MA in English at the University of Ottawa. She is now based in Kingston, where she is a PhD Candidate studying contemporary North American literature. Her research focuses on mixed race identity in various genres, including memoir, poetry, and the novel.
Over the last decade, she has published a smattering of poems through small presses such as In/Words, Joypuke, Coven, and Feathertale, and served on the editorial boards of The Ottawa Arts Review and The Lamp Literary Journal. She loves reading even more than she loves writing, and is excited to share and discuss new Canadian work through The Miramichi Reader.