“This debut memoir is a daughter’s reckoning: a quest to understand her mystery of a mother, an exploration of mysticism and untreated mental illness, and an indictment of the systems that failed their family…St. Pierre and I grew up in the same remote corner of the west, but you don’t need to know it in order to appreciate the descriptions that add lush texture to this searching, empathetic narrative.” 

—Esquire, “Best Memoirs of 2024”

Out Now from Dutton Books 

A riveting memoir about a daughter’s investigation into the wirings of her loving, unpredictable mother: a woman who lived her life in pursuit of the divine, and who started two big fires, decades apart.

Ten years before Nina was born, her mother lit herself on fire in a dual suicide attempt. During her recovery in the burn-unit, a nurse initiated her into Transcendental Meditation. From that day on, her mother’s pain became intertwined with the pursuit of enlightenment.

Growing up, Nina longed for a normal life; instead, she and her brother were at the whims of their mother, who chased ascension up and down the state of California, swapping out spiritual practices as often as apartments. When they finally settled at the foot of a mountain—reputed to be cosmic—in Northern California, Nina hoped life would stabilize. But after another fire, and a tragic fallout, she was forced to confront the shadow side of her mother’s mystical narratives. With obsessive dedication, Nina began to knit together the truth that would eventually release her.

In Love Is a Burning Thing, Nina interrogates what happens to those undiagnosed and unseen. This is a transfixing, moving portrait of a mother-daughter relationship that also examines mental health, stigma, poverty, and gender—and the role that spirituality plays within each. 

Praise for Love is a Burning Thing