Daughter in Retrograde: A Memoir

An unflinching account of grief, family, and doubt, Courtney Kersten’s debut memoir Daughter in Retrograde chronicles one young woman’s crisis of faith in the midst of her mother’s untimely death.

As a young woman, Kersten charted the uncertainty of her Midwestern homeland by looking to the stars and planets for guidance, what many people would call “The Deep End.” By the time she was sixteen, she had fully immersed herself in a world of signs, symbols, and prophecy. But when Kersten’s mother, her friend and fellow spelunker into the Deep End, unexpectedly dies, she must learn how to grapple with her faith and navigate the forces around her without the one person who lit the way—her mother.

From the depths of a Wisconsin winter where Kersten must contend with her mother’s refusal to speak during her final months of life; to navigating a family landscape of alcohol and silence; to the far flung reaches of Europe where she is challenged to reconcile her beliefs and her mother’s life, Daughter in Retrograde questions the very foundations of faith, healing, and what it means to be lost in the Deep End at the moment you lose someone.

A fierce and unexpectedly funny meditation, Kersten’s memoir brings to light the conflicts and doubts we all experience in the face of emotional wreckage—simply by asking whether or not we can reach into the beyond and connect with that which resists knowing.