The following article appeared courtsey of thetelegraphjournal.canadaeast.com on 16 July 2011.
When Laurie Lewis was just a kid growing up in depression-era Alberta, running away from home was a regular occurrence. “We all did it,” she remembers. “Running away. My whole family: my mother, my brother, me.” So it’s with a poetic irony that after more than 80 years she’s able to return to her childhood with such force and recollection in her memoir Little Comrades.
Divided into two parts, the first half of the memoir recounts her early childhood moving about western Canada trying to cope with the depression, her alcoholic and abusive father and her family’s communist leanings. Lewis does this with utter honesty, recounting the stories of all her scars and the lessons they left her with.
The second half of the memoir sees a teenage Lewis and her mother fleeing to New York City. They live in five apartments in just over a year, but get to socialize with the elite of the Left and take in all of Broadway’s bright lights.
The teenaged Lewis goes through her horrors and heartaches in the Big Apple, but it’s Lewis’ recounting of her mother’s strength and character that is most interesting in these pages.
“My mother thought I was happy, and I probably was. I behaved like a happy girl, cheerful at school, not moody. But I always felt alone … always felt that I was somehow different and would never be like ordinary people.”
Lewis was indeed different, and while it caused her no end of strife it makes a great story. Between the beatings, poverty, Party meetings and politics, Lewis’ childhood is like few you’ve heard about before.
Mike Landry, Telegraph-Journal