Interview with Indra Sena author of Closet Full of Coke

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I’m not sure if I have ever written a formal review of Closet Full of Coke for this site.  I have mentioned it here and here.  And here is my full Amazon review:

I read this book in one night. I was captivated by the story and strength and resilience of this young woman who, in middle school, began selling drugs to better her life. As I was a toddler when the narrative began, I personally cannot remember this time in American history. This book shed light on the Reagan years, and the advent of cocaine in America.

Portions of the book made me cry. The narrative is so heart-wrenching, you want to reach through the pages and hold this young girl, you want to step in for her absent parents. You keep turning the pages because you want to see how it all turns out.

What I really found lacking was more information on how the author is doing today. There was brief information at the end, but I would have found more information about her life in the intervening 25 years from her teenage years to publication equally as fascinating.

Another book perhaps?

After that review, the author tracked me down to thank me.  And we’ve  been exchanging email on occasion ever since.

I’ve been fascinated with her writing process.  What it takes to write about something so personal, so deep and emotional.  And to put it all out there.  You can tell by some of the idiotic reviews on Amazon (and especially Goodreads) that some of the people reviewing did not read the same book that I did.  Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but instead of critiquing the book for its literary merit, they ended up critiquing the author for her personal choices she made as a teenager 30 years ago.  I recently asked Ms. Sena if she would do an interview about this subject, and she graciously acquiesced.

1)  Where did you get the idea for your memoir?  Was it something you always wanted to do after the events took place?  Or did you have a dream or a stroke of divine inspiration?
I planned to write my memoir for nearly twenty years. I was twenty years old and reflecting back on all the events of my teen years and I realized that the story had all the components of fiction. It was kind of startling to see life so perfectly imitating art. I started telling people then that one day I would write this book. 
When I finally sat down to write it twenty years later it became clear that I needed the perspective of lots of time and distance from the events to write something like this.
2) How did you decide which years to focus on?
I knew exactly where the book would end but I wasn’t quite sure how early I should start it. My first draft had an additional five chapters in the beginning that described my life when I was 13 and 14 years old. But my editor and I ended up agreeing that the clearest beginning was the day I met Armando. So my original chapter 6 became chapter 1.
 3)  How did you remember events and timelines?  Did you have journals from those time periods of your life? Court records?  Did you interview family members?
I have an overactive memory. It can be frustrating sometimes but in general it’s very helpful. I memorize everything in chronological order in my life. I can tell you what house I lived in by what age I was. I also memorize conversations, especially significant ones. Sometimes I watch a movie I haven’t seen in many years and I find I have memorized the majority of the dialogue. I memorize things that are significant to me, and I can often remember where I was, how old I was, and what I was wearing.
I do have court records. I never looked at them but I gave them to the lawyers who vetted my book and they were able to view the actual charges from the court. There really are no family members to interview except for Joan who doesn’t really remember anything.
Although I don’t keep journals I am an avid poetry writer. I’ve written thousands of poems and I did take the notebooks from those years and reread all the poems I had written. They are confessional but they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already remember but they helped with my voice since I don’t always memorize my side of the conversation precisely.
4) Did you write chronologically, or as memories came to you?  Did you have a timeline?  Lists of events you wanted to cover?  Is there some fantastic, unabridged version of “Closet” out there? If so, can I get a copy?
I’m sorry there is no real unabridged version. I started by creating an outline and a timeline and a character sheet. Then I went through in the outline and I made a list of scenes that would take place in each chapter. I wrote chronologically but sometimes I would remember something that was going to happen a few chapters ahead and I would jump forward and place that writing into the appropriate spot.
 5) Have any of the people featured in the book read it?  If so, what were their reaction to their portrayal?
None of the surviving members of my family have read it to my knowledge. 
** I do want to note that Ms. Sena did add an “aftermath” portion to her website adding what she knew about the characters featured in her book as of today.  If you have read it and are curious, you can find it here.**
 6) Have your current friends read it who didn’t know about your past?  Was it difficult for them?  
Many of my friends had a hard time with the book. Many people were surprised that they’ve known me decades and they didn’t know the contents of the book although they knew the generalities. There were few people who felt like they couldn’t finish it because it was too disturbing. But part of that is the fact that my current friends are not the type of people that enjoy horror or scary stories like mine.
7) Was it difficult for you writing certain scenes?
I knew every scene I was going to write in advance and I really had no problem with any except the entire chapter about my sister. I saved that until last. I dreaded writing it because I really didn’t want to remember the details.
 8)  Your memoir is excellent at inserting the reader directly into a scene.  I was born in 1982, but I swear I could hear the music, feel the lace gloves.  Personally, I can barely remember what song was popular, what I wore, the atmosphere of a given day in 1998 (when I was 16), did you have to do research, or did it come from your memory?
 All the music and the outfits came from memory. I was able to grab a small photo album I have with a couple dozen pictures that reminded me of some of my more favorite outfits and I was able to write them into the book. I do seem to be wearing lace gloves in practically every photo! The music I remembered perfectly but I also have memorized thousands of songs. I could hear the music playing in my head. Still, I went to YouTube and watched the videos I spoke about from MTV, I reread the lyrics and listened to all the songs that I mentioned mostly just to bring back memories. 
9) This is a very emotional, personal, heart-wrenching story.  How difficult was it for you to put that much of your soul out there for the perusal of humanity?
 I followed the advice of my idol Erica Jong. She says she writes every book telling herself she will not publish it. I did a similar thing where I told myself I would cut out anything I couldn’t handle, or that made me uncomfortable.  She also said that whatever you don’t want anyone to know, that’s what you write about, so I did.
I cannot explain what gave me the courage to then publish it.  I have read the book myself hundreds of times since then and I cringe during some of the passages not believing I had the nerve to leave it in. But eventually I just accepted that what makes the book good is revealing all those secrets.
10) In some of the more traumatic passages, especially with the issue of sexual assault, your voice becomes more distant, more matter of fact.  That is very in line with how trauma survivors view the events they endured, as if it weren’t happening to them, but to someone else.  This lends incredible authenticity to your memoir.  Was this on purpose or was this how it just came out?
That was not on purpose and I am not aware of  as being different from the rest of the book. The book lacks exposition leaves a lot of room for readers to think and feel on their own. It gives the intimate details of the events but it doesn’t go much beyond that.
11)  Now that it has been out there for awhile, are you glad that you published?  Would you change anything about the process?
 Yes I’m very glad I published it and I don’t think I would change anything that I’ve done so far. I’m very happy I self-published and retained editorial control over my work.
One day I would like to publish a memoir of my experiences.  If you are interested in reading about some of that drama, email me and I may provide you with a link to my page that has content pertaining to my book idea.
Memoir fascinates me.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to put your soul on paper for the world to see.  Closet Full of Coke is a tremendous study is strength, in resiliency.  An excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read.

Book Review: The Shell of a Person by Lance Pototschnik

Probably my favorite cover of the year (so far)…

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This book is absolutely hilarious.  I think I woke up my husband a few times laughing my ass off.  Here is the synopsis:

“Welcome to beautiful Costa Rica! Come and experience our diverse wildlife. Exhume nests of dead baby turtles and stay up all night while mosquitoes elicit blood from your very soul! Indulge in the local cuisine. Eat rice and beans until the malnutrition engenders hallucinations! Travel west to Guanacaste, to the peninsula that pokes into the Pacific like a fang. Lose yourself on the remote, cocoa-dust beaches, where rare sea turtles drag themselves from the seething ocean to nest. Camp beside the water to leave civilization and all its cheerfulness behind. Burn bucketfuls of used toilet paper, shiver in an infested bed and pump your bathing water from a putrid hole…every single day for weeks!”

Lance Pototschnik and his friends must have booked their trip with that agency. Their incredibly affordable “vacation” was meant to be a relaxing time to meditate on the direction of their languid, aimless lives. Instead, they are introduced to hell and the insane diversity of its tortures.

Marooned on a remote sea turtle conservancy with a handful of fellow unanchored souls, Pototschnik, in his hilarious debut memoir, ponders who he essentially is, and what he is likely to become. But he speaks to all of us. In Pototschnik, those who have fallen prey to the desolation of broken dreams, the young and the listless, finally find a voice with the talent to cast out demons and turn them into laughs. Through his own outrageous tale, Pototschnik offers the questions of the brooding, the concerns of the anxious and the hopes of the hopeless in a witty, irrepressible voice that will not shame them. 

Beneath its shell, this rollicking, episodic story is also a treatise about finding your purpose, realizing your full potential and learning to love your own life. Pototschnik’s very personal book happens to be the story we have all been hoping for. The Shell of a Person is one of the best books by an emerging author this year.

The hilarity.  The humor is fantastic.  The descriptions of his fellow turtle rescuers is priceless.  They come from all over the world and he mainly refers to them by their country of origin.  And then there are the physical descriptions:

She seemed as miserable with herself as us three incomers, and her face was slightly reminiscent of Eduardo, the fetal pig I dissected in college lab. 

The description of one of his chores in the camp literally made tears roll down my face.  But aside from the humor, the author really examines this time period in young adulthood:

All of us at the rescue, whether we all knew it or not, were shells, skin puppets, waiting for something to crawl inside and animate us, and only now, with the example of the possessed French woman, did I realize that, all this time, the evil things had had as good a chance of finding the hollow as the good things.

Very thought-provoking, excellently written.  He also provides a pretty good description of what I think life might be like in this part of the world.

Many of my “reading wishes” were answered: excellent writing, fantastic descriptions of places I have never been to, humor and a deeper meaning.

A short read and highly recommended.

Book Review: Inner Course by Rebecca Joy

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I was a bit hesitant on this book because of the nature of the stated cult that the author grew up in, but I went on another one of my tangents in my reading, this one being a “spiritual/meditation” type one, so I jumped right into this book.

There are no graphic descriptions of sexual abuse, and it really didn’t trigger me.

That being said, I did have to look up “The Family” after the first chapter they were mentioned just because I couldn’t believe that something this vile was still allowed to exist.  I’m all for religious freedom, but “religions” like these really give atheists ammunition for the banning of all religions.  As much curiosity as I had about their way of life, I am truly grateful that Ms. Joy didn’t focus her memoir on her life in the cult.  I feel serious rage on her behalf.

Here is the synopsis:

Rebecca Joy, a sensitive, emotional female was raised from birth in the sex cult called, “The Family” (aka The Children of God), leaving after 25 years. Now, hopeless and longing for love she searches for acceptance in this scary, new world––but to her “love stinks.” She never understood love, as in the cult her flesh was the only thing to offer in life, as she was a sex object to men. In her search for love outside the cult she experiences intense pain. She realizes she can no longer live life this way. The decision was made to either swallow a daily pill to subdue her roller coaster emotional ride, or open to the unknown to find who she really was and why she suffered. With desperation and a curious mind, she delves into the world of hypnosis, finding clues from hidden, ancient mysteries on how to heal her heart and mind. Her story is one of inspiration to all people who have experienced hopelessness, rejection, and failure in life only to rise again.

This book has the distinction of being the MOST HIGHLIGHTED by me, ever.  No fewer than 23 passages were highlighted.  And I’m usually not one that marks up a book, even if it is electronically.

The focus of this memoir is Ms. Joy’s all encompassing appears to be a quest for love.  Her struggles with relationships after she leaves “The Family” at age 25.  Like other survivors of sex abuse, regardless of their origin, she has difficulty with self-worth, boundaries, and expectations.  Time and time again in this work she captures these issues with a few phrases:

If I had boundaries, they were blurry.  A man that I did not know wanted to stay at my house.  One one hand, I was thrilled with the idea of love, romance, and excitement, but on the other palm, I felt uncomfortable with a stranger in my nest.

I am afraid to offend the offender.  What if he leaves me because I don’t give him what he wants?

My self-esteem was non-existent, deeply believing:  I am nothing, I am worthless, no one could truly love me, my body is all I am good for.  My needs were intense; my heart crushed.  I was vulnerable and heavily guarded.

The parts regarding the cult absolutely ripped my heart out.  With regards to religion, I have no allegiance.  I’m more “spiritual”.  I guess I’m starting on my journey much like Ms. Joy in this book.  But I never really grew up in a church.  I went to Catholic school, but my parents weren’t particularly strict about it.  I have always been free to make my own determination.  So these passages that feature her young teenage years in “The Family” hit me really hard.  I have no frame for it, and it was very emotional for me:

“I wonder what live would be if I were not born in The Family”, I questioned–but now ashamed of questioning my question. “I know–I know, I shouldn’t think this way!  The Lord is going to be angry with me.  I’m supposed to be a missionary and tell the world about Jesus”, as I try to change my thoughts, “But how much I wish I could have a like like other girls in the US, away from all this boring life–work, witness, make money, childcare, housekeeping and whatever the adults tell us to do and how to be.”

I remember the many years in The Family, men would approach me for sex.  David Berg taught his followers that women’s job were to please men.  Women were to take care of men’s needs.  It was well ingrained into the doctrine.  I followed as I was instructed, believing that if I were to do what we were told, that we would be happy, loved and fulfilled, but it didn’t work out that way.  I became confused and hurt.  I would cry when a man would use me and leave me, wishing that maybe one day I would be loved.  I longed for closeness and depth.  They would prey on my weakness.

As much as the passages of the doctrine of the cult haunted me, and Googling the actual cult itself, Ms. Joy’s personal growth and steps to finding her inner peace soothed me.  I have always had an interest in  hypnosis, and I infrequently meditate myself, but have never formally looked into it.  That may change.

The ending is perfect.  I think I would have felt cheated if it ended any other way.

Again, with most memoirs I read, and one of my favorite memoir writers can attest to this, I wanted to know more.  Mainly about her son and if she was able to keep him out of The Family, as I am assuming that he father was a member.  More of a mother type curiosity than anything else.

I still can’t believe that these types of cults are allowed to operate, but my husband pointed out, its “religious freedom”.  Which brings me to my final quote from this amazing book:

A religion is an organization in which the individual goes outside of oneself to find meaning.  Spirituality and/or mysticism encourage individuals to go within themselves to find meaning.  Religion requires structured, organized beliefs for people to follow along.  Spirituality and/or mysticism can break that belief system in order to find a greater freedom.

I love books that make me think.  This book did more than that.

Very well written, even with the back and forth between her journey into spirituality and her time in the cult.  Very deep and emotional.  Overall and excellent read.  Highly recommended.

Amanda’s Favs for 2013 — Part One

It’s that time of year again.  Time for me to review (ha!) my year in reading and pick favs.  Which is kind of hard.  So this year I’m going to do something different.

I read many other books outside of what I review.  Mainly the larger press, more famous author books that I come across.  So I will divide my picks for the year into two parts.  Part one being my favs of the books I have reviewed, and part two being the books that I read “outside” my reviewing.

I am also going to ask Ms. Charliegirl to make a favs list as well.  She has been busy being Ms. Teacher, but I’m sure she can write a quick post.

So here goes:

Favorite zombie series:

Hands down, The Zombie Bible series by Stant Litore.  Earlier in the year, I read Strangers in the Land and I am currently reading Mr. Litore’s Kindle serial No Lasting Burial.  Even if you don’t like zombies, READ THESE BOOKS.  They are by far the best written books I have read this year, possibly in my life.  The writing is lyrical, thezombie4 author evokes strong emotions within a few words.  He has made me more interested in a time period that I was never really interested in before.  He makes me want to actually GO to these places that he features in his writing.  And he has ignited an interest in ancient history.

I have never read the actual Bible, I am a former Catholic and I know next to nothing about biblical stories, characters, events.  I feel so much more enlightened by this series, and even better, it includes ZOMBIES!!  So check it out.  Unless you are strictly religious and have objections to the collision of the bible and the undead, I can promise you that you will enjoy these books.

 *Honorable mention*  Undying by Valerie Grosjean is pretty awesome too.  I love her characters and the way she builds the relationships between them.  She also evoked some pretty awesome memories of the relationship I share with my husband.

Favorite sci-fi (not including zombies):  About Time by Michael Murphy.  This one was a hard category.  Butabouttimepic going back over my posts, this one stood out.  I still think about the issues brought up by this book, and it is hilarious as well.  I love books that make you think, and this one definitely did that, and more.

Favorite history book:  America’s Greatest Blunder:  The Fateful Decision to Enter World War One by Burton Yale Pines.  This book involves a time period I know absolutely nothing about.  Much of my historical reading focuses on WWII and the U.S. Civil War.  The author sent me his book and thought that given my historical preferences, I might like it.  And I did.  It went very far to help me understand the causes of WWII and it is written in a very engaging way.

Favorite historical fiction:  Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You by William E. Thomas.  These books are more than just historical fiction, they are also romance novels.  Mr. Thomas has literally reduced me to tears (in a good way) with the amount of emotion packed into his novels.  These two books aren’t serial, but they do feature some of the same characters in both books which is an interesting twist.  I can’t wait for the third book to tie it all together.

Favorite memoir:  Lucky Girl:  How I Survived the Sex Industry by Violet Ivy.  An amazing look at the sex industry written in a very engaging and intelligent manner.

Favorite dystopian (without zombies):  This category was really hard, especially since I have read so many 51K-+0aHQ4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_good dystopian books recently.  It is definitely a tie.  Campbell (Book One) by C.S. Starr is a very engaging story.  It not only includes a dystopian future (or present), it also closely examines how people come of age.  Very intriguing and insightful.  The Rebel Within and Rebels Divided by Lance Erlick is a little more political, but extremely inventive and engaging.  All of these books are very character driven and include extremely strong female lead characters, which makes me happy as a mom to a little girl.

Favorite mashup:  Being that I’m drawn to these books, and that several of the ones mentioned above can be considered a mash up in some way, this was extremely difficult.  But I kept on thinking about The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door by Stephen Stark.  This was the book that made me take notice of this kind of writing.  Several different elements, all melded into one amazing book.

Favorite humor:  Midlife Mouse by Wayne Franklin.  This book is absolutely delightful.  Very well written, imaginative, hilarious, I loved it.  If you have ever been to Disney, have kids that are Disney obsessed, you have to read this book.

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Look for my next post about the other books I read this year.  What are some of your favs?

 

Book Review– Lucky Girl: How I Survived the Sex Industry by Violet Ivy

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I was drawn to this book because I love memoir.

I was initially wary because of my personal history with domestic violence and rape, but when I asked the author about any possible triggers, she answered right away that only one or two places may bother me.  She was right, and I appreciate her honesty.  

Here is the synopsis:

The intimate autobiography of an international call girl. Scary, funny and bizarre stories recorded for your amusement, edification or simply for interesting dinner conversation. 

The sex industry is clouded in mystery. It has to be to some extent or it wouldn’t survive. But in this age of internet porn, buying pubic hair trimmings online and wife swapping parties it’s about time the veils of mystery were taken down. 

For moralists, let’s visit the chicken and the egg scenario. Which came first the prostitute or the client? If there were no clients then obviously there would be no sex workers. But what if there weren’t any prostitutes? Would guys wank themselves silly to porn? Harass their post-menopausal wives? Frequent bars trying their luck? Or hassle the secretary and risk being charged with sexual harassment? Would statistics for rape be on the increase? Is prostitution a necessary evil in our society? Don’t mindlessly believe and quote information spoon fed to you by friends, family or the media. Make an educated decision. 

Although it was never my intention to get into this industry, I’ve travelled the world, had incredible experiences and bought several properties. I won’t have to rely on the government pension when I retire. 

My closest friends are co-workers, madams and clients. Brilliant people who I would never otherwise have had the good fortune to meet. I will never regret my decision to enter this field. It has not always been a bed of roses, but when I compare it to what my life might have been; cleaning job, shitty boss, marriage, perhaps divorce, mortgage, kids, living in the burbs, scraping by to give my kids a better life than I was destined for, I feel that I have been rescued… thank God. 

Money doesn’t make you happy? Tell that to someone thrown out of his house because he can’t make the payments or the mother who can’t afford Christmas presents for her kids again this year. I’ve been poor. Money equals choices. Options of how to travel on this journey we call life. Did I make some mistakes? Sure! But there’s not too much I’d change. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Money gives security. Poverty causes ulcers. Financial hardship can also make you compromise yourself in ways that being a sex worker never will. 

This industry eats its young and damages those not strong enough to cope. Every worker has a different personality, head space, upbringing, personal history and therefore experience. This book is a glimpse of mine. I am not advocating anyone join the profession. That is a personal choice. 

When I started out I could never have imagined what my life journey would look like or where I would be now. I don’t even know where in the world I will be in twelve months. What I will be doing? Who I might be bonking, caning or smearing with hot wax? Exciting isn’t it? Carpe diem – seize the day. I’m a lucky girl.

This book fascinated me because of the subject matter.  In most places in the U.S., prostitution is illegal.  I have always felt that a legalized sex industry could do so much to improve the lives of the women that choose the oldest profession, and as a nurse, I have thought that a regulated industry can do so much to improve STD rates.

This book went far to further those ideals.  This woman wasn’t forced into it.  She is not a sex slave or beholden to a pimp.  She made a decision (yes, it was motivated by money) to offer a service for a fee.  And she has done very well for herself.

I enjoyed her candid way of explaining her story.  Her honesty in writing that she got into it for the money, and stays because she likes it.  She is honest with herself, her friends and family that “know” and with her clients.  Most women don’t know themselves this well.

I enjoyed her stories, maybe not the one that she mentioned would trigger me (and it did, but I survived) but the ones that discussed her long term clients, the client who was losing his virginity.  I especially enjoyed her stories about her time in a very high-priced sex club in London.

I loved her contrasts between her life and that of her sister (a seemingly straight laced “mum”). 

I truly see her point about her profession.  That is is definitely needed.  That she is a licensed professional in every sense of the word.  

I do ache for her loneliness.  As she says, she would probably question someone who was ok with what she does in terms of a romantic relationship.  She is able to separate her work from her personal life, but clearly others have not been able to.

Again, I’m a nurse, and also very secure and happy in my sexual life.  I regularly read erotica.  I have no qualms about the human body or its functions.  I have no issues with sex, other than sex that is forced on others.  I enjoyed her book for what it was, a memoir of a life I have never thought much about.

Intrigued?  Give it a try.   

 

Book Review: A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford

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This is a book I reviewed for I Read a Book Once:

I really liked this book.  I was intrigued by the plot summary because I currently have a kindergartner and I love memoir.  Also, it was very interesting to read about a different culture’s philosophies on child rearing, especially in a very difficult time in the history of British people.  Here is the plot summary from amazon.com:

Brenda Ashford is the quintessential British nanny. Prim and proper, gentle and kind, she seems to have stepped straight out of Mary Poppins. For more than six decades Nanny Brenda swaddled, diapered, dressed, played with, sang to, cooked for, and looked after more than one hundred children. From the pampered sons and daughters of lords ensconced in their grand estates to the children of tough war evacuees in London’s East End, Brenda has taught countless little ones to be happy, healthy, and thoroughly well bred. In this delightful memoir, Brenda shares her endearing, amusing, and sometimes downright bizarre experiences turning generations of children into successful adults.

From the moment Brenda first held her baby brother David she was hooked. She became a second mother to him, changing his nappies, reading him stories, and giving him all the love her warm heart contained. Knowing a career caring for children was her calling in life, Brenda attended London’s prestigious Norland College, famous for producing top-notch nannies. It was a sign of privilege and good taste for the children of the well-to-do to be seen being pushed in their Silver Cross prams by Norland nannies, who were recognizable by their crisp, starched black uniforms with white bib collars, and their flowing black capes lined with red silk. And what skills were these trainees tested on daily? Lullaby singing, storytelling, pram shining, bed making, all forms of sewing, cooking simple meals, and dispensing first aid—including knowing the best way to help the medicine go down.

In A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda recalls her years at Norland and her experiences during the war (after all, even if bombs are dropping, there’s no reason to let standards slip), and recounts in lovely detail a life devoted to the care of other people’s children.

Sprinkled throughout with pearls of wisdom (you can never give children too much love, and you should learn how to sew a button, for goodness’ sake), this delightful memoir from Britain’s oldest living nanny is practically perfect in every way.

The beginning starts out very slow.  Although I appreciated the knowledge about Ms. Ashford’s specific training, I wanted to get into the meat of the book, her experiences with children.

I loved the beginning of the chapters which included a nursery rhyme, tips on child-rearing and sometimes a recipe for a British dish.

In particular, the tips on child-rearing have already helped me with my child.  I love the fact that Ms. Ashford believes in raising children with love, not strict discipline.  Her school’s motto:  “Love never faileth” is demonstrated time and time again throughout her interactions in the book.

I particularly found interesting her experience running a nursery during World War II. I literally felt tired just reading the descriptions of her schedule for the day which also graced the beginning of every chapter.

Also, Ms. Ashford’s long career illustrated the changes that have occurred in Western society throughout the 20th century.  When Ms. Ashford graduated Norlan in 1939, children were expected to be seen and not heard.  Additionally, children were often segregated from much of family life.  Parents often “visited” their children in the nursery for maybe two or three hours per day.  All of the care of the children, from bathing, to feeding, to playing was carried out by the nanny.  Newborns were often kept in the nanny’s room for the first few months with the nanny having the parents perform a few feedings per day.  This is just the way it is done, especially at that time in Great Britain.

Nowadays, especially in my own case, my child slept with me in my room for the first four months.  I was responsible for day to day care and took my child to another location to be cared for while I worked.  I would have loved having Nurse Brenda help me out during those first three months because I can no longer recall them.

One issue I do have with the book is the language issues.  This book looks like it was written for American audiences or at least modified for this purpose.  The spellings of particular words are in American English, such as neighbor and neighbour. With the recipes included in the book, the measurements of different ingredients are given in the units customary to the United States.  However, strictly British lingo is used throughout.

I could determine that “nappies” are diapers, and a “pram” is a stroller, but some words I couldn’t figure out.  I tried using my dictionary, and sometimes it would help, but at other times, the term was not found.  I would have appreciated a type of glossary, or just the American equivalent inserted next to the word in question in parentheses.

I enjoyed this book immensely, I loved the way it was written like you were sitting next to the author and listening to her review her life.  This book is highly recommended if you like memoir, history and those who have an interest in child-rearing.

I also wish Nurse Brenda was available for on-call duties to assist me with my spunky child.

You can head on over to I Read a Book Once and enter the drawing for a chance to win a copy of this book.

Book review: The Gospel According to Chubby by Jeremy Rochford

jeremy

This is a first for the Eclectic Bookworm. Writing a review on an author I have known personally for over a decade and a half.

The Gospel According to Chubby is a book written by my friend Jeremy Rochford. We went to high school together. I knew him before he lost all the weight, and I was interested to know how he did it…without surgery, pills or a fancy Hollywood trainer.

He wrote this book to share his experiences with others. He’s not promoting a certain weight loss program, he isn’t endorsing a fast food chain (that thing with Jared still puzzles me). He did it the old fashioned way.

The book initially came out in 2010, but I recently re-read it due to my own issues with weight.

The book chronologically reviews his weight issues throughout his life. How it started in childhood, why he feels he overate, the struggles he had with his parents. It’s a funny read, he writes it like he was sitting down and having a conversation with you. And I can speak from experience that conversations with Jeremy are incredible. I think this format lends credibility to his stories.

My first signed book!!

My first signed book!!

He has several passages consisting of dialogue and has a very healthy subconscious that speaks to him frequently.

I particularly found interesting the lengths that he would go to just to eat what he wanted to eat. The sneaking, the elaborate money making schemes in order to buy candy and junk food. His intricate plans to get his parents to go along with some of his ideas are just ingenious. I knew he was smart, but I was amazed that at a very young age he knew what he was doing and intentionally planned out his deception.

I can honestly say that before reading his book, I never really thought about looking at overeating as an addiction…as a compulsion. To fill an emotional need. I now get “carb cravings” from the medication that I am forced to take every day, and it is probably a similar sensation.

I also did not know all that Jeremy went through leading up to his decision to lose weight. Like he discusses in the book, he always seemed like the jovial fat guy. He has always been quick to make fun of himself. I never realized that it was a defense mechanism until he spelled it out for me in this book.

I now go back and look at some of the conversations we had in the past and I cringe. I’m pretty sure I am quasi-mentioned in the book, mainly because I was one of his many female friends that always turned to him for advice about my horrible relationships, not realizing how it made him feel…to constantly hear about these d-bags and see me (and my friends) continually ask for more poor treatment.

Reading his book this time, however, has some sad parts. One of his girlfriends from high school has recently passed away. Reading the passages which feature her is very sobering.

The most amazing thing about his journey is that he lost over 200 pounds, and has kept it off for over a decade.

If someone would have told me back in 1996 (when I met him) that Jeremy Rochford would grow up to help people lose weight, I would have looked at them like their hair is on fire.

Which is hilarious because he’s a ginger.

Another aspect to his miraculous transformation is his faith. He isn’t overly preachy throughout the book, but it is mentioned and I know personally how his faith in Christ has impacted his life.

I really do recommend this book…pretty much to everyone. It’s a good story whether you are trying to lose weight or not, if you are a Christian or are like me and pretty much without a religion right now. It is very well written, although I think he sometimes goes overboard with the metaphors.

Check out his website here. There are plenty of before and after pics too.

–AA

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