A tour de force of narrative nonfiction, a reimagining of the self-help genre, and a brave memoir about mystical forces, ancestral trauma, trans life, addiction, and how we must heal ourselves to survive.
In Breaking the Curse, Alex DiFrancesco takes their own crushing experiences of assault, addiction, and transphobic violence as the starting point for a journey to self-reclamation. Reeling in the aftermath of a rape that played out as painfully in public as in private, DiFrancesco begins to pursue spirituality in earnest, searching for an ancestral connection to magic as a form of protection and pathway to transformation. Propelled by a knowledge of the spiritual role of the transgender person in society, Alex winds through Cleveland and Brooklyn and Philly—from rehab and pagan AA meetings and friends’ spare mattresses to tarot readers and books about Italian witchcraft to daily ritual, prayer, altar-making, and folk tradition. In so doing, they begin to not only piece together a way to heal but also call into existence a life that finally feels worth living.
Breaking the Curse weaves spells, blasphemous novenas, and personal memories to imagine a new memoir form. Speaking about trauma does not always take its power away, DiFrancesco reminds us, but one can write their truth so that the hurt no longer fills the whole horizon.