Book Review: Objects of Our Affections

Prepared by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

I always love finding books that are really genealogy books but aren't advertised as such. Objects of Our Affection is a family history narrative that has an interesting way to look at a family history, by the objects left behind by a family.

Lisa Tracy and her sister make the difficult decision to move their mother from her home to an assisted living facility where her mom eventually passes away. In moving her mom and then in taking care of her estate, they must make decisions about what to do with all the stuff accumulated during her lifetime. Her mother's accumulation wasn't restricted to just her own material items but also the accumulation from previous generations. Not having enough room in their own homes to add these items they must choose what to keep and what to sell. It is through descriptions of some of the items that she weaves in the story of her family history. The book's dust jacket says it the best, "What starts as an exercise in information gathering designed to boost the estate's resale value at auction evolves into a quest . . . These travels open her eyes to a rich family history." This rich family history includes the achievements and travels of her military ancestors and might be of interest to those who are researching their own military ancestors.

Family heirlooms have a special place in the hearts of genealogists. Those of us who aren't as lucky as Tracy and have not inherited anything might cringe at the thought of selling items that had been in the family for generations. However, those who have been given the sacred duty of taking care of an estate will understand the decision to let go of some items that no longer have a place in the family. These items are memorialized in this book.

This book is an interesting way to tell a family's history. Genealogists might want to consider this as a way to weave a story that incorporates their family heirlooms with the story of those who owned them first.

Objects of Our Affections:Uncovering My Family's Past, One Chair, Pistol, and Pickle Fork at a Time, by Lisa Tracy. New York: Bantam Books, 2010. Print.

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