Tag Archives: relationships

My Review of P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy by D.G. Kaye

Judith Barrow

P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy by [Kaye,D.G.]Book Description

Confronted with resurfacing feelings of guilt, D.G. Kaye is tormented by her decision to remain estranged from her dying emotionally abusive mother after resolving to banish her years ago, an event she has shared in her book Conflicted Hearts. In P.S. I Forgive You, Kaye takes us on a compelling heartfelt journey as she seeks to understand the roots of her mother’s narcissism, let go of past hurts, and find forgiveness for both her mother and herself.

After struggling for decades to break free, Kaye has severed the unhealthy ties that bound her to her dominating mother—but now Kaye battles new conflictions, as the guilt she harbours over her decision only increases as the end of her mother’s life draws near. Kaye once again struggles with her conscience and her feelings of being obligated to return to a painful past she thought she left behind.

My Review:

When…

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Review of Amye Archer’s Fat Girl, Skinny

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

41YCR2btxyL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_By Debbie Hagan

I’m working on a memoir about mental illness, and, at times, the process feels like a long, combative, and slightly schizophrenic therapy session. One part of me lies on the couch, reluctant to divulge details. The other part of me sits in the chair, pen poised, grilling my prone self: What did you mean by that? Are you telling the truth? Why are you so defensive? What’s wrong with you?

The analyst part of me can be rather brutal. That’s why me, quivering on the couch, eventually pops up, storms to the door, and cries, You’re just trying to embarrass me. While me in the chair shouts, Wait! We were just getting to the good stuff.

After a few hours of this, I sit back and wonder, have I at last fallen into the black abyss?

Reading Amy Archer’s sassy memoir Fat Girl, Skinny (Big Table…

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Motherless

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Often over the last few days I have seen various posts on social media from friends whose mum is no longer living about the irreplaceable nature of the bond between mother and daughter and how they are missed.

The feeling it prompts in me is anger and a desire to scream at the top of my lungs not all mothers are like that and yet the sentiment holds true in me in my desire for that and hope that I will be that idea of a mother for my children.

I have been estranged from my mother for 9 months. I just counted funnily enough the same length of time it would have taken her to carry me in her womb when she was 19.  In those 9 months which has carried us through, birthdays, Christmas, New Year and Easter my mum has not once contacted me or my children…

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The Scars that No One Can See

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Image sourced from: https://www.edvardmunch.org

As a writer, I love reading and writing stories, yet it is listening to other people’s stories which fills me with a sense of wonder.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always imagined that other people walk around with a massive scroll of inky parchment inside of them, which spills out of their eyes, mouths and hearts whenever they talk about an aspect of their life

Yesterday, I was working with BBC Asian Network on a radio package which has turned out to be one of those experiences which has imprinted itself in my mind and my heart. It was a really emotive and powerful phone-in discussion which saw many people (from all walks of life, backgrounds, religions etc) feel compelled to contact the show to tell their stories.

“Literature, the arts and storytelling are the ultimate expression of what it means  to be a…

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BOOK REVIEW: Don’t Worry About the Mule Going Blind: Hazel’s Daughter

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Author:  Betty Tucker
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 186

Blurb:

Betty Tucker came of age in Belle Glade, Florida, infamous for its poverty and violence (e.g., see the Wikipedia entry and the 2006 documentary One Percent). Her childhood was one of debilitating poverty, borne of racism: exploitive migrant labor, multiple rapes and other abuse, chronic illness among her family and acquaintances … the list is long and bitter. Betty survived not only by sheer hard work but also by nurturing a nascent belief that she deserved better. She moved to California, earned her college degree, and raised a family. Then, in 1997, she began a long and eventually successful search for the twin girls she had given up for adoption thirty years earlier. Fear, insecurity, sexual abuse, want, neglect: This memoir will look beyond the description of these difficulties in the author’s life to examine how they stifled her ability to shape her own life, how she acquired the tools she needed to take more control of her life, and what impact her choices, both intentional and unintentional, had on her life and those of her children.    

I purchased the ebook version because I wanted to start reading it right away. Upon opening it, I only intended to read a couple of pages, but found I couldn’t put it down. This is an empowering memoir! The chronological structure enhances the author’s narrative style.

Initially, Betty and her six siblings, along with their mother (a light brown-skinned woman with hazel eyes) and father, lived in a three-room house–two rooms and a kitchen with a wood stove, a well in the back yard and an outhouse. Back then, the lack of running water, electricity or indoor toilet was considered “functional poor,” coupled with the fact that they sometimes ran out of food. As dire as this sounds, Betty’s family was actually one of the fortunate families because her father had a steady job at the mill where he worked from sun up to sun down.

When Betty was nine, the mill burned down and her family began a life as migrant workers. They left their three-room house in Alabama and traveled to New York in a large truck, similar to a large U-Haul truck but much larger, along with a lot of other families to pick mostly beans and occasionally strawberries. Everyone had to work to support the family. Betty babysat her two younger siblings along with a neighbor’s children while the rest of her family worked. Having spent my formative years in Florida among migrant workers and laborers, alike, I was struck by the authenticity of the setting and the characters. I either knew of someone like Betty’s family members or had observed them from a distance. Betty’s narrative style, like she was talking to a friend, took me back in time as I experienced her world of hard work with only a few pleasures.

Each one of the characters are distinct and memorable. For instance, “Ma always appeared to be satisfied with making babies which she did like it was biscuits: whenever they were born, her job was complete.” The actual care of the baby was then turned over to one of Betty’s older sisters. This and the way Betty and another sibling were treated led me to suspect that her mother was narcissistic.  My suspicions were confirmed when Betty described her mother’s relationship with her children, “Ask not what I can do for you. It’s what you can do for me.” It was difficult reading about the beatings which Betty described as “torture… At some point during the beating, I’d feel no pain: my body had exhausted all the signals it could sent to my brain to register any feeling. But ma did not stop.” When the bean season in New York was over, Betty’s family returned to Belle Glade to work in the sugar cane fields. After the sugar cane season was over, they moved back to New York to pick beans again.  This went on for a couple of years.

When Betty was eleven, she started playing Pitty Pat (cards) at the Card Club Shack an establishment for males. She learned to play by putting her ear to the wall and listening to the games on the other side of the wall. When she started playing, no one stopped her. When she won, which was often, she presented her winnings to her mother just for the touch of her mother’s hand when her mother took the money from her. She wanted to “feel human, so I could know that life was real.” Reading this reminded me of the protagonist in Toni Morrison’s God Bless the Child who went out of her way to feel her mother’s touch because it was so rare for her mother to touch her.

Betty’s father, weary of the migrant life, secures steady work in Bell Glade. Shortly thereafter, Betty’s mother leaves her father for another man and Betty’s and all her siblings, except her sister Johnnie, return to New York to continue doing migrant work. A short time later, Betty joins her sister Johnnie to live with her father who was still grappling with his wife’s infidelity. School was Betty’s escape and she excelled at it. At one point, she was the only one of her siblings in school. “Life is about choices,” Betty writes. Reading Betty’s story, I couldn’t help but admire her determination to rise above her circumstances to live a better life, even though she had to make some really tough choices in order to do that. Even though Betty began in a dire situation, she didn’t stay there. Like the old saying goes, It’s not where you start, it’s where you end.

I absolutely loved this book! If you like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, you’ll love this book.