Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Learning to Love Myself

Once again, I plunged into memoir in order to gain an understanding of the writing process. This time, I found access to a memoir through Story Cartel (where you are offered a free read in exchange for an honest review - this one is only available for free through 2/19). Viga Boland's book Learning to Love Myself, is a second memoir and a follow-up to her previous book, No Tears for My Father, where she tells the story of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Her tale is a sad one and the descriptions of her father make it clear that he was a despicable, self-centered man.

My understanding is that readers begged the author to write this follow-up book in order to explain how she survived and thrived despite the horrors she experienced in her youth. The title sums up her philosophy entirely. She survived because, through the love of a good husband and the love of her two daughters, she learned to love herself and to come out victorious despite being beaten down and abused for so long.

Although it was easy to lose oneself in the story of her life, I did find myself wondering about the response of women in her position who don't have the blessing of a fine husband and loving children. I wondered if there would be enough valuable take-away from the cataloging of events in the author's life to render a strong enough lesson on how to weather a similar storm. The author certainly bled her story onto the page and revealed the most intimate parts of her life. However, at the end of the tale, I am still scratching my head, trying to figure out why she never told her family about her abuse before she was well into her sixties. Moreover, I was a bit disappointed that the actual telling isn't included in this memoir. Thus, we never really get to see whether or not the fears about the reactions of her husband and children were valid or not. I'm assuming the fallout was far less than she had built it up to be in her mind. Kudos to her for telling such an intimate tale and attempting to offer hope to women in a similar situation.

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