(4.5 / 5)
“Missing Insects is a memoir from Naomi Rosenthal. She had a complicated upbringing in several countries, and later in life, issues with her childhood. So, in a sequence of vignettes, we get both the detail of her memories and the flow of her life. Her childhood homes ranged from Israel and Germany to multiple parts of America, and as she moved away from her parents, she ended up traveling throughout the world, with an extended multi-country tour of Africa. Along her travels, she came to terms with her childhood and her parents’ history, which had created many of those issues.
Rosenthal tells her story with humor and honesty. From her memories of sucking her thumb (funny) to being caught by her son having lied to him (honest), Missing Insects is an intriguing look at a life. The book title comes from the concept of not knowing when something is missing until you’re confronted by it. In her case, it was the multitude of insects she experienced in Africa, which she hadn’t ever encountered in previous environments. This same concept applies to her childhood. It is only through the experiences of her life that she realized the things she never had growing up. It is by going into her family history that she gained insight into the reasons why her parents were the way they were.
Memoirs usually fall into one of two camps: self-absorbed tales of little interest to anyone unrelated to the author, or autobiographies by the famous written for their fans. Missing Insects is in a third camp—a highly personal life story of interest to a wider audience.”
— San Francisco Book Review