Memoirs you need to read this summer

It's finally here! Summer! And what makes Summer even better, are beaches and books. Whether it's a paperback, kindle, or an audiobook, I love spending time in the sunshine reading or listening to a great book.

I love to read many genres, and memoirs are right up there. They are great for both men and women and make the best gift for Mother's and Father's Day. To read someone's true story, is like spending the afternoon getting to know them . The heartaches, the trials, and the outcome of a happy ending and what it took to get there.

While writing A White Room of Peace, I read four different memoirs. And I can honestly tell you, their story has stuck with me. I will share my thoughts and links to these books in this blog post.

Petals of Rain

by Rica Keenum

Exploring the impact of parents’ sins on the lives of children and the fates we endure for the chance to be loved, the story follows a mother navigating motherhood and womanhood - an abuse survivor emerging and learning to speak, to scream, to sing to her own wounded heart and to finally understand what it takes to be whole after breaking to pieces. Weaving the present and past together, the author reveals her truth in hauntingly evocative scenes.

As surely as the sun shines behind the grayest clouds, healing comes drop by drop. Like petals of rain.

My review

Not every storm comes to destroy what we have, but to clear a path. And it is up to us how we choose to take that path. Rica Keenum gives us a beautiful storm, a collection of good and bad and the things we learn in the wake.

The author gives us a glimpse of her earliest childhood. The beautiful memories of her grandmother. Quote: ‘But of all the gifts she gave me, the gem of literature shines brightest in my memory.’ The days they spent together reading books and watching birds from the porch. Her grandmother will be the one anchor of Rica’s life she would carry with her. The years of sexual abuse and the loss of her own voice. A mother who sweeps it under the rug and pretends they are a happy family. Even at a young age, Rica learns to compartmentalize and place each thing in a box. The good, the bad, the real, the dream.

She knows not to compare her life to the Cleavers, the Brady Bunch, yet these fictitious shows are her only blueprint to build her storybook life. And don’t they all end with a happily-ever-after? Quote: ‘I can read books about other families and forget everything I know about mine.’ What Rica learns, that it is the obstacles, the heartaches, the memories that mold us and guide us to our happily-ever-after. It’s never giving up and the search for ourselves.

As with most young girls in Rica’s position, her escape is J. Her husband and father of their two boys. Her marriage to J roller-coasters with moments of bliss and heartache. Young and struggling to cope with the strains of marriage and children, Rica sees the beauty in motherhood and building the family she’s always yearned for. As with myself, Rica learns that by wanting love, family, and romance will become distasteful and a waste when only one is committed. And again, the Petals of Rain will fall and float away, giving Rica a new direction and a new path opens. Quote: Again, I am silent. I’ll never get a straight answer from a crooked man.’

Years later, Rica moves to Florida and this will give her a chance to rebuild a relationship with her mother. Even with a past that destroyed ‘what could have been,’ Rica’s determination still teeters on that ‘what we can still have.’ Her teen son, Sym deals with anger issues and Rica learns of abuse he suffered from his father. Buried wounds surface. Rica works diligently to get him the help he needs and the two together bond with self-image and relationships and Sym will be the support she needs when love comes to find her once again.

Now a mature woman, Rica discovers her true journey and that love, hurt, and sacrifice just may be the voice you thought you lost. But find it woven into a tapestry of what our own journey to happiness is. Not all road maps are the same, and Rica’s is one that is the road many have taken and felt they failed. Only to discover, it was yours to take and what you make of it. We are only souls in hibernation, quotes Rica.

This story broke and healed my heart. From page one to the end, I felt a kindred spirit in Rica and how parallel our lives were and are. A must-read for women who have gained experience through the lesson’s life has put us through and know our true worth. Thank you, Rica.

Petals of Rain of Amazon

American Daughter

by Stephanie Thornton Plymale

"American Daughter–in the tradition of classics like The Glass Castle, LA Diaries and White Oleander–explores in unsparing details the complex interplay between intimate family ties, generational abuse and cataclysmic losses." – Gina Frangello, Author of ‘Every Kind of Wanting’ and ‘A Life in Men’ Editor of The Coachella Review

For 50 years, Stephanie Thornton Plymale kept her past a fiercely guarded secret.

No one outside her immediate family would ever have guessed that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: a mentally ill mother who was in and out of jails and psych wards throughout Stephanie's formative years, neglect, hunger, poverty, homelessness, truancy, foster homes, a harrowing lack of medical care, and ongoing sexual abuse.

Stephanie, in turn, knew very little about the past of her mother, from whom she remained estranged during most of her adult life. All this changed with a phone call that set a journey of discovery in motion, leading to a series of shocking revelations that forced Stephanie to revise the meaning of almost every aspect of her very compromised childhood.

American Daughter is at once the deeply moving memoir of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on trauma, resilience, transcendence, and redemption. Stephanie's story is unique but its messages are universal, offering insight into what it means to survive, to rise above, to heal, and to forgive.

My review

Homeless, shuffled from foster home to foster, Stephanie never understood why she was dealt the bad hand. All she wanted was a family. A home. Food. A mother and father. Years later, she did get all these thing, yet had no knowledge or understanding the wicked past her mother endured. Until time began to run out.

As a young girl, helping to raise her own siblings, Stephanie was embarrassed, and even angry from the lies her mother told. "I from royalty, the descendant of our first president," her mother would rant at each arrest. Living in squalor, Stephanie detested the disillusion of grandeur her mother had.

Then comes a phone call from her dying mother. She has only a small amount of time to find out the truth. A truth built on pain, suffering, and the lies of others. What she discovers is shocking. And a mother she never really knew...until the end.

I loved this memoir and highly suggest this book. Stephanie Thornton Plymale is the true....American Daughter

American Daughter on Amazon


by Aaron Michael Grant

If you only read one book on the Iraq invasion THIS IS IT!" — Command Sergeant Major Dennis Woods, author of Black Flag Journals

TAKING BAGHDAD is one of the few histories of Operation Iraqi Freedom written by a Marine who actually served in the war. It covers the twenty-two-day push to Baghdad in 2003, which was was one of the most efficient conflicts in the annals of warfare. This book is for soldiers and civilians, for historians and the young who need to understand war. So much more than facts and figures, Taking Baghdad is a dynamic account of the real struggles of war. Corporal Grant illuminates success in Iraq for those who see Iraq for what it became afterward: a war in which America lost heart. Written on sand-covered pages during the invasion and after, the author guides us step by step on a journey through the desert, through war and peace.

My review

As a mother of a marine, I jumped on this book. I was impressed by what I didn't know about the war.

The author held my interest with his attention to detail and many of the details I had not known before reading this book. I appreciated the human side he brought to his writing as well as his acknowledgment of his faith in God and the protection he received due to his faith. I highly recommend this book.


A White Room of Peace

by Gina A. Jones and Joe Secrist

Joe Secrist was born with a rare condition called coloboma, which means that part of the one or more structures inside an unborn baby’s eye does not fully develop during pregnancy. A coloboma occurs in about 1 in 10,000 births. He was not diagnosed until his early childhood and was considered the clumsy boy who crashed his bike.

This is Joe’s story and his account of life during his years of abuse and neglect. Once sent away, his abuse continued at the Indiana School for the Blind. Joe has kept his silence until now. To come clean and tell his story of sexual abuse, struggle, and triumph, Joe wants his story to encourage others who have been failed by the system and to know their worth.

Once told he would never achieve his goals, Joe went on to become a blind skydiving, martial arts champion, driving, EMT, triathlon. Today, he uses his disability to help others achieve their goals and dreams.

Goodreads reviewer

Oh my word!!! What a fantastic book about a man that had a disability and didn't let it define him. I just listened to A Room of White Piece by Gina A Jones and Joe Secrist. It was based on a very true story and oh my goodness, it was absolutely fantastic. Joe was born with an eye disease that caused him to be blind in one eye. But he didn't let that stop him from accomplishing so much in life. He was abused mentally and physically and neglected in his young life as a boy. He really found his purpose in life by helping others and giving back. He didn't let his blindness stop achieving what most people would say is impossible. He succeeded in everything he did. I loved listening to this book. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. I absolutely loved it. It made me feel an array of emotions. When you believe in yourself, you can do anything and Joe's story proved that. His story is a true inspiration to all people.

A White Room of Peace of Amazon

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