Welcome back to my Nonfiction Book Party!
Today’s featured books are about hope and healing by two women who suffered terrible and horrific experiences as children. Sickened is the story of how Julie lost her entire childhood to a twisted mother who convinced everyone that Julie was extremely sick. It was shocking and disgusting to read the lengths she went to, to perpetuate the lie. This brings me to Elizabeth’s book, Where There’s Hope. This is not a recounting of her experience of being kidnapped but of how she has managed to find peace and healing through sharing her story. She speaks to other survivors and discusses what helped them move on and find forgiveness.
Title: Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood, 2004
Author: Julie Gregory
Synopsis: A remarkable memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive Midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor.
A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctor’s examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, she’s tall, skinny, and weak. It’s four o’clock, and she hasn’t been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She’s about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to “get to the bottom of this.” She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.
From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on–in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker–almost always the mother–invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, but she also escaped the powerful orbit of her mother’s madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman.
Punctuated with Julie’s actual medical records, Sickened re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family’s isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees, and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing naïveté of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie’s family together–including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother’s happiness.
The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood. But when it did, it would strike like lightning. Through her painful metamorphosis, she discovered the courage to save her own life–and, ultimately, the life of the girl her mother had found to replace her. Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.
Title: Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up, 2019
Author: Elizabeth Smart
Synopsis: Author. Activist. The victim–no more.
In her fearless memoir, My Story, Elizabeth detailed, for the first time, the horror behind the headlines of her abduction by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. Since then, she’s married, become a mother, and traveled the world as the president of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, sharing her story with the intent of helping others along the way.
Over and over, Elizabeth is asked the same question: How do you find the hope to go on? In this book, Elizabeth returns to the horrific experiences she endured, and the hard-won lessons she learned, to provide answers. She also calls upon others who have dealt with adversity–victims of violence, disease, war, and loss–to explore the pathways toward hope. Through conversations with such well-known voices as Anne Romney, Diane von Furstenburg, and Mandy Patinkin to spiritual leaders Archbishop John C. Wester and Elder Richard Hinckley to her own parents, Elizabeth uncovers an even greater sense of solace and understanding. Where There’s Hope is the result of Elizabeth’s mission: It is both an up-close-and-personal glimpse into her healing process and a heartfelt how-to guide for readers to make peace with the past and embrace the future.
“…two types of survivors: the ones who did not die, and the ones who live. There will be those who will always remember and be the victim, and ones who just won’t. You have to go on, you have to learn, and you have to heal. Resentment and holding on to the past is so toxic.”
― Elizabeth Smart, Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up
What is the Nonfiction Book Party? All month long I’ll be sharing newly released nonfiction titles and some of my 5-star favorites too! Join me on Instagram for an epic book party with an amazing prize pack. Tag all your posts #NonfictionBookParty
Bloggers: Make sure to blog along with DoingDeweyDecimal, JulzReads, What’s NonFiction, and Shelf Aware and follow #NonFicNov. Over on BookTube, get the details on #NonfictionNovember20 and join the Goodreads Group here.
Want to see which books I’ve posted about in previous years? (And which books are STILL on my list?!)
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