Ernaux has fashioned a compelling tribute to her mother by telling the story through her eyes as a child but now filtered through her analysis as an adult. As children we experience life, especially the relationships of our parents, as they happen without much ability to synthesize the deeper meanings. As adults, sifting through the past, we can often see what those moments really meant. A deeper understanding can be gained by trying to inhabit our mother's shoes as we age and discovering not only what kind of person she was but what kind of person we are because of her influence of in spite of it.
Ernaux is first an honest writer adding no more words than are necessary to give the reader a full understanding of the events that shaped her life.