Tag Archives: Domestic Abuse

Book Buzz: I’m The One Who Got Away

Book Buzz: I'm The One Who Got Away

With scorching honesty infusing her gorgeous prose, Andrea Jarrell looks back at her unconventional childhood in this brave coming of age memoir, I’m the One Who Got Away.

Book Buzz: I'm The One Who Got Away

I’m the One Who Got Away. The title itself is bittersweet. Jarrell did get away, finding the normalcy in love, marriage and parenting as an adult that eluded her as a child.

But did she really get away?

Her past caught up with her in a blinding moment, when the brutal murder of an acquaintance in the small community where she, her husband, and two children had once lived evoked a visceral response. It wasn’t just the horror of the crime and the loss of an innocent life; she flashed back to her own experience as the child of a possessive single mother and the mercurial, frustrated actor father who was in and out of their lives.

The murder victim, a single mother named Susannah, was someone Jarrell knew through their children’s preschool, a mom whose son was the same age as hers.

Although they had been casual friends, Jarrell had always felt uncomfortable in Susannah’s presence. Susannah’s life was centered on her son; the two were inseparable. Just like Jarrell and her single mother had been. The two of them against the world. “Just we two,” her mother often reminded her.

The murder is the catalyst that forces Jarrell to revisit her own relationship with her parents.  Her bright and adventurous mother was married at 16 to a man whose insecurities and alcoholism were a constant threat. Jarrell’s mother loved her husband but loved her daughter more, and with the escalating abuse she knew there was no other solution than for mother and daughter to flee.

Jarrell’s mother, in her youth both valedictorian and homecoming queen, had aspired to be a photojournalist or graphic artist and was offered several scholarships. Instead, she married a man who turned out to be toxic. She never went to college. Throughout her life, Jarrell questioned her mother’s choices, especially when she let her father back in their lives. Would this be her future, too, putting her dreams on hold for a man who held her back?

Eventually, she comes to terms with her past. Her mother did what she could with the imperfect cards she’d been dealt. She didn’t complain about the trajectory of her life, but made the best of it with no apologies.

The loving, complicated relationship between mother and daughter is truly the backbone of I’m the One Who Got Away.

Jarrell’s life would turn out to be different, but not without its stumbles. That’s what life is.

Not simple, or perfect. But if we can choose the best of what we had, what worked really well, and pack away the worst of it in an old cedar chest in the attic to be examined when we need a reminder, we’re the artisans creating the future that we want for ourselves and our children, which is exactly what Jarrell has done.

As she says at the end of the book,

“… I’ve learned again that I can’t go over, under, or around, and I can’t turn back. No matter how high or rough the surf, going through every stage is where the living is.”

 

I received a copy of I’m the One Who Got Away from She Writes Press.
The text and views are all my own.

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Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

I am a person who needs a book handy at all times. Hence, you will find one not just next to my bed, but also in the bathroom, in the side pocket of my car, and on the kitchen counter.

Audible has enabled this quirk of mine by offering hundreds of audiobook titles that I can listen to anywhere. This is especially nice when I’m in the car or out for a daily walk. I can get so wrapped up in a good tale that those 10,000 steps seem much less arduous.

The buzz over author Colleen Hoover’s latest novel, It Ends With Us, had intrigued me, so I eagerly downloaded it from Audible.

Romance, yes, But so much more. A complex story that takes on a harrowing subject with frankness and emotional depth, It Ends With Us is a novel that left me breathless even before getting winded by step #5849.

Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

Listening to It Ends With Us on Audible, I found my emotions running the gamut, and because I was moved from highs to lows over and over again, I may have unleashed a few expletives on my neighborhood jaunts. Hopefully I was out of earshot of the neighbors.

The narration bounces from 15 year-old Lily reading entries from her diary to the present day Lily. The younger Lily writes mostly about her relationship with Atlas, a boy from her school, and the older Lily brings us up to date 10 years later.

It Ends With Us

Adult Lily meets hunky Ryle in the most romantic of ways: on the roof deck of a Boston apartment building late one night, each one seeking an escape, with the stars and lights of the city twinkling above.

Lily, distraught after failing to deliver an appropriate eulogy at her father’s funeral that day, needs a refuge where she can be alone with her thoughts. Ryle, a brash neurosurgeon, has come up for air as well. At first she is annoyed that her space has been invaded, but as they strike up a conversation she starts to feel a spark. It lasts just a moment, and they go their separate ways.

My reaction: Meh. He sounded dreamy at first, but way too aggressive for my taste. If a man was that coarse with me I would be outta there. You’re well rid of him, Lily.

Some time later they run into each other and although Ryle has steadfastly opposed getting into a romantic relationship, he falls in love with Lily. Initially wary herself, Lily is deliriously happy.

My reaction: Dismay. Lily, this guy may be cute, but his quirks make me shudder. Like taking your pulse during sex to see how high your heartbeat will get? Gross.

Without giving the plot away, let’s just say that eventually Lily finds out in the most shocking of ways that there is another side to Ryle that rocks her physically and emotionally.

My reaction: Horror. Lily, girl, get away from that creep!

Out to dinner one night, Lily and Ryle run into Atlas, Lily’s boyfriend from long ago. Although she is in love with Ryle, Lily realizes that she still cares for Atlas as someone who once was so important to he.

Atlas can read Ryle like a book, and out of concern for Lily he wants to intercede, wants to tell her how this guy is wrong for her, but holds back.

Thus begins Lily’s personal struggle to justify being with a man whose behavior is reminiscent of her own father, the father whom she was unable to properly eulogize at his funeral. Her own experiences have taught her one thing, but now in the moment herself, she is vacillating between her love for Ryle and her own self-respect and survival.

This is a portrait of what happens in too many homes behind closed doors. The shame of the victim often shields the perpetrator from scrutiny until it is too late. As observers, we can be judgmental or sanctimonious, but we can’t truly understand the anguish of this situation unless we walk in the victim’s shoes.

Reading It Ends With Us will put you there. After the final sentence, which gave me goosebumps the author revealed what prompted her to write this story.

My reaction: Wow. Read this book!

Have you tried Audible? Go to Audible’s free trial site and you will have a month to listen to as many titles as you like.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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