To read a memoir is to immerse oneself in the life, and trauma, of another person. If doing so also triggers flashbacks of my own trauma, it can take me weeks to recover. I generally take care to avoid or prepare for such experiences.
As happened with The Glass Castle, this story surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it. I joined a group of women in my town who all agreed to read it. We were given a timeframe and planned to hold a discussion once we were all done. It sounded like a fun way to maybe meet some new friends. I hadn’t read the blurb. I agreed to read it, knowing nothing about the subject matter. Despite the surprise at how triggering the content could be, I am so glad I did.
Tara Westover was raised by parents who ascribed to some of the more radical beliefs I knew to be part of the LDS faith. I met some people like them growing up in the Utah/Idaho area. I even share some of their desire to be self-sufficient and to be prepared for ‘the worst.” It was strange to read her story and identify with both the author and her family at times, given the divide between them today.
Like mine, her story is one of leaving all she knew and held dear as a child to reprogram herself: to decide for herself what was right, good, and valuable. We also both lost many of the family relationships we valued in our process of becoming who we are now. I honestly hope to meet Ms. Westover one day, share a glass of wine and talk over who she is today. Her story is inspiring and stays with me. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Domestic violence is the most common killer of women around the world. (Global study on Homicide, Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls, U.N. publication, Vienna, 2018). We know this. It’s not a surprise. Leaving a domestic violence situation is most deadly in the first two weeks, but a few very determined men continue to find ways to abuse their wives, ex-wives, partners, and children even after they successfully leave.
For Lizbeth Merideth, nothing could have prepared her for what happened. She got away. She had custody of her daughters, though the courts insisted on allowing their father unsupervised visitation despite his severe violence against her. She had a gut feeling it was the wrong choice but she was following the court order when she allowed him to take the girls for what should have been a weekend visit.
Years later, across oceans and borders, she fights to find and rescue her daughters. This is the subject of “Pieces of me,” her story of how she eventually recovers her girls and brings them home.
I particularly love the honest account of her struggle to reconnect with her daughters after years of parental alienation and across a language barrier. It is well worth the read. I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think in the comments below.
If you have not read Jaycee Dugard’s Memior “A Stolen Life,” you should.
You may remember that her life was changed forever when she was kidnapped one morning on her way to the bus stop. The world watched in shock 18 years later when she walked into an FBI office with her two daughters and the kidnappers that had posed as her ‘parents’ while keeping her prisoner in a backyard full of tents and trash. She writes an unflinching account of her ordeal and how she managed to hold onto hope in the direst of circumstances. Hers is a tale of resilience and hope.
This memoir was published by Simon and Schuster (2011).
A memoir that was really striking was The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. I found it very difficult to read because many of Jeanette’s experiences were raw, real, and far too familiar for me.
I chose this story from a list in college and completed a review assignment on it for my Human Behavior course. It was and has remained a beacon of hope for me. Not only because she survived and created a wonderful life for herself, but because she was able to share her story with so many people. I truly hope to be able to share mine like that, someday.
Jeanette lives a transient existence as a child, suffering due to the careless and ineffectual parenting of her flighty artist mother and mercurial father. His lofty plan to build a glass castle for them all to live in entrances her as a child, but develops into a symbol of disappointment. Her strength and resolve lead her to a successful life doing what she loves. This has given me hope for many years. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.