A History of Scars: A Memoir by Laura Lee


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“A memoir in essays, this is a deeply reflective and complicated exploration of self.

With an astonishing intimacy, Lee dissects her experience navigating her bisexuality, life as a child of immigrants, mental health, a parent’s deterioration, abuse, absence, family histories and generational trauma. And yet, every essay is pierced with love, with her passions for creating, for writing, for rock climbing. She traverses her identity as though on a climb: testing and finding her footing and progressing and stumbling and reevaluating and leaping without hesitation, all while guiding us alongside her.

Lee eschews the binary of cause and effect, her essays as seemingly disjointed as a life lived. She reminds us that history is never as linear as we would like it to be.”


TW: abuse, mental health, self-harm

From a writer whose work has been called “breathtaking and dazzling” by Roxane Gay, this moving, illuminating, and multifaceted memoir explores, in a series of essays, the emotional scars we carry when dealing with mental and physical illnesses—reminiscent of The Collected Schizophrenias and An Unquiet Mind.

In this stunning debut, Laura Lee weaves unforgettable and eye-opening essays on a variety of taboo topics.

In “History of Scars” and “Aluminum’s Erosions,” Laura dives head-first into heavier themes revolving around intimacy, sexuality, trauma, mental illness, and the passage of time. In “Poetry of the World,” Laura shifts and addresses the grief she feels by being geographically distant from her mother whom, after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, is relocated to a nursing home in Korea.

Through the vivid imagery of mountain climbing, cooking, studying writing, and growing up Korean American, Lee explores the legacy of trauma on a young queer child of immigrants as she reconciles the disparate pieces of existence that make her whole.

By tapping into her own personal, emotional, and psychological struggles in these powerful and relatable essays, Lee encourages all of us to not be afraid to face our own hardships and inner truths.

A History of Scars: A Memoir by Laura Lee