Memoir review: Crash Into Me by Liz Seccuro

February 18, 2013

I was deeply moved by reading Liz’s book Crash Into Me. It was an extremely difficult book to read, not because of her writing, but because of the treatment she received  during and after being sexually assaulted. She is an extremely courageous woman willing to share her story and look at the truth regardless of how dark it is. This is a highly significant book that I hope is read by students and facility in our schools and universities.

When Liz was a student at the University of Virginia in 1984, she was raped at a fraternity party. She immediately does the right thing by going straight to the hospital and to the college administration. However, most of the blame is placed on Liz and little action is done to report the incident to the police or to investigate what happened. Liz continues to fight for some sort of resolution, and none is granted. She chooses to focus on making the best she could of her college years, yet still effected by the tragedy of the rape and the aftermath.

In 2005, Liz receives an apology later from one of her rapists, William Beebe, apologizing for “harming her”. A correspondence and a search for justice begins to follow. William reaches out to her, twisting his understanding of the 9th step, seeking to make amends. (FYI, a rapist writing a letter to someone he raped, doesn’t make amends by sending a letter to the person he harmed causing more harm). Unfortunately his lack of understanding what he has done to her, his sudden appearance, and his inability to be completely truthful creates additional hardship. Liz, however, with the letter and the right support, is able to finally receive a glimmer of justice for what was done to her.

Often when I read a story, I am unable to remember much of it a short time later. I become engrossed in a story, then somehow can’t retain it. Liz’ memoir is not one of those stories. This is a book that will haunt me in the years to come as I prepare my daughters for college. I am so grateful that she was willing to share her story, to bring awareness on such a difficult topic, and to continue to stay strong in spite of all those who shamed her. The obstacles she faced were numerous, and most unnecessary. I can’t believe how many ignorant, selfish, dishonest people she had to face. Fortunately, she also met some amazing, compassionate, loving, wise people. May her future be filled with blessings as she brings a light to others facing the darkness. Thank you for sharing your story and bringing hope where it isn’t often found.

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Memoir review: Believe by Eric LeGrand

February 18, 2013

I love reading inspiring books. I am drawn to the stories where people learn to live in the middle of challenging circumstances, share about their internal process, are humble and make a difference to those around them. Believe is one of these memoirs. Eric was a successful football player who was paralyzed after a tackle. Before his injury he was taught about values and commitment from his mom, raising him to be a person of integrity. His coaches taught him about team work, flexibility and the bigger picture.

With little hope for a future, he began a recovery program with the support of his therapists, friends, team-mates, family and faith. Eric chooses to look at the positive and hold on to his beliefs.  He sees the good in the people around him, and his relationships become stronger.  He is blessed by the kindness of strangers and fans as well cheering him on.

Eric’s Memoir is one of the most positive books I have read.  It was a pleasure to read, and helped me to see the importance of our outlook in life, and holding on to hope.  It isn’t easy struggling with aspects of life that I wish were easier.  At times I feel frustrated, angry at others, and disappointed with my perception of God.  However, when I look closely at the people who care, and see how they care, and the relationships I have, some of that frustration melts away, and gives me the strength to start another day.


Memoir Review: Crash by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, MD

January 2, 2013

Crash was an amazing read. Carolyn is a fabulous writer who was able to draw you into her experience of her son’s serious accident by a drunk driver. Being a doctor she explores her struggle of dealing with her son’s injuries, the tragedy of being hit by a drunk driver, the girl-friends’ death, the medical issues that arise and making sense of her experience from both a doctor and family member perspective. She is honest, thoughtful, and inspiring.

One thing that struck me was the randomness of the accident. Many things in life can seem random, in the sense that everything can change in a moment. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, a simple decision that turns costly. Even those who make poor choices, have a sense of randomness. Many people pay costly for their mistakes, or cause great harm, while others pay less outer consequences. Life isn’t always fair from our reality point. This can be a hard one for me to swallow. I strive for integrity, yet it doesn’t mean my life will be easy or pain-free.

Carolyn’s story was inspiring in the way she was able to grow from her experience and find the gold nuggets in all the losses. She strived to find the balance between doctor and patient, and to use this experience to make her a better doctor. The tragedy of her son’s injuries was brought in perspective by the death of his girlfriend. Her recognition of own lack of understanding of depression and brain injuries is very humbling, as she strives to learn more about a subject so relevant to her son and later becomes an advocate for people with Brain Injuries. She is honest in the struggle, yet looks for the positive, and grows closer to her family in the process. In the heart of the story, is Carolyn’s evidence of grace. “I don’t believe in fate. I believe we deal with the hand we are given. We make our own meaning. We find our own grace. Grace as a kind of acceptance. Grace as thankfulness. Grace as new meaning for a changed life.”

What a way to begin 2013, to move forward in grace. The year 2012 had many challenges and blessings, yet grace is what brings growth, love and humility. Through the health challenges, the healings, the relationships and losses, may grace help me live in the moment in a place of love, acceptance, gratitude and deeper understanding. I don’t know what 2013 will bring me. I can feel fear at the possibilities of financial struggles, health problems, and learning to navigate through relationships. At the same time, I trust that whatever arises, I will walk into it, grow, and becoming a greater person, more aware of the spirit within, around and above, and find the gold nuggets to receive and to give.

Happy New Year everyone. May grace abound to you.


Memoir Review My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell

December 2, 2012

I loved reading My Sisters the Saints.  A great spiritual memoir, learning about the different saints and what makes them special.  Colleen writes an interesting book, as she shares her own spiritual questions and learning to apply spiritual principles to life’s challenges.  I could relate to many of her challenges, infertility, aging loved ones, making relationship decisions, and balancing personal desires when they seem to conflict.

Reading spiritual memoirs is one of my favorite ways to grow spiritually.  I love stepping into another person’s life and hearing how they live out their own beliefs and the way they process through them.  As she used books to learn about her mentors, I also use spiritual memoirs as role models to learn from.  Her book gave me both, memoirs in a memoir – gotta love that!  I am blessed to learn from her humility, her ability to dig deeper into the questions, and her desire to follow her heart and her values.  Thanks for a great read.


Memoir Review of Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu

December 2, 2012

I enjoyed reading the book Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu.  She honestly tells of her story in gymnastics and the struggles she experienced.  She is open and aware of many of her own battles, sharing her challenges in a self reflected way as she seeks to work through them.   It can be a hard book to read at times especially when hearing about the way she was treated by her father and professional coach.  She had some incredible coaches at times, and you can easily see how the positive influences impacted her.  Even the people who weren’t always kind, taught her valuable skills and traits that enhanced her career as she was open to learning from them.  It is encouraging to hear her story and her ability to succeed and find herself in spite of all the challenges.

Watching gymnastics is something I am often inspired by and am amazed at the dedication and heart many athletes have for the sport.  Often I want to give up in the personal and physical challenges, yet athletes learn how to work through these in order to accomplish their goals.  The passion they show for their sport seems to compel them to move forward.  Her story is a great reminder to me in learning to pick your battles, learning the lessons along the way, loving yourself, striving for the goal, and the great relationships that make all the difference.


Loung Ung Memoir series

September 23, 2012

When I am looking for Memoir books to read, I often scan the latest memoir books for something that speaks to me.  I came across Loung Ung’s book Lulu in the Sky (book 3) and later read First They Killed My Father (book 1) and Lucky Child (book 2).  I appreciate her writing a series of books, because I seek to understand how people make it through difficult circumstances and how it impacts them later.  Often a book will share feelings not always shared when talking to people one on one.  The beauty of writing is that it can capture the heart of our story and the intense emotions and thoughts that exist within us.

Loung Ung’s books share about her horrible experience in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge and her travels to America.  Loung and her family had to leave their home because her father’s work in the government threatened their security.  They led secret lives, hiding their status and moved around frequently. They often had little food and lived in fear of dying and losing loved ones.  Loung encountered extensive trauma and challenging circumstances, even being trained as a child soldier.  As I read about the deep pain she encounters, I am all the more drawn to her spirit and the struggles within.  Her two later books, continue her story and her relocation to America.  Unfortunately the struggles don’t end, as she adapts to a new culture and the losses of leaving loved ones behind.  The last book shares about finding and receiving love and working through her traumatic experiences.  Though an extremely difficult read at times, it truly is a story that needs to be shared.

I could relate to the humanity of Loung. Her struggles to make relationships work, to deal with things she wished she didn’t have to experience, and her desire to make a difference out of the darkness.  I can’t say I have the ability to fully understand the impact of such trauma which can make it easier for me to ignore the realities of war all around us.  Reading memoirs is a way for me to be educated about what is going on (past and present) in different parts of the world and to find a way to make a difference in spite of my fibromyalgia and other limitations.  My day-to-day life has been enriched by her books, my ability to see what matters in life, how the small and big things do matter, and how much my life is enriched by people of other cultures and experiences.  It makes me aspire to work through my own challenges and being willing to look honestly at things I would rather not face. I am thankful Loung was willing to share her story with us – it won’t be forgotten.


Rocking the Pink Memoir review

September 23, 2012

I really enjoyed reading Laura Roppe’s book Rocking The Pink.  It is a story about her journey with breast cancer and how it inspired her to follow her dreams.  I love her honesty in a compelling and humorous way, allowing me to laugh at the darker aspects of life, while recognizing the grief of it.  Her story to becoming a rock story reads almost like a fairy tale, except of course the big C wood.  Laura writes in a witty way about people and life’s circumstances, sharing her experiences without every criticizing other people.  I enjoyed her positive stance and her strive to follow her heart in a way that considers other people.  Her relationships with her husband, daughters, cousin and fellow cancer survivor, Jane revealed her loving  and kind manner and made you love her all the more.

I connected to Laura’s story by her illness, her dreams and her positive aspect.  Though I can’t say I share the successful rock star life, it doesn’t prevent me from dreaming of making a difference through writing.  I was inspired by her ability to find the very best in her close relationships and made me love my husband all the more for his love and support.  Having two daughters, I connected with the motherhood piece, the fear of not being there, not giving enough, and balancing your own dreams.  I generally feel less alone reading the stories of others experiencing some kind of medical crisis, learning from their ability to capture their feelings, hopes and fears.  So thank you Laura for sharing your story through your book and music.


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