Book Review: "Not My Mother: A Memoir"

Saturday, June 01, 2013

This most recent Mother's Day was one of the best I'd had in years! For one thing, I had just accomplished my divorce finally after almost 5 years!  That alone was enough to have me completely cheerful even though, for the most part, Mother's Day passed pretty much like any other day, as usual.  I'm still learning to remind myself to be thankful when days like that pass without much acknowledgment.  And, this time, even when I felt slightly melancholy, all I had to do was remember that 1. I am officially free to move on with my life and 2. I have my kids.  ^_^

Well, there was something else that I got that made Mother's Day a particularly lovely one: A new book.  Believe me, I will NEVER scoff at getting a new book, especially when I'm able to get it for free! I was looking at posts by blogs that I follow here on Blogger and I spied a post on Laura DeLuca's blog where she was promoting a book called "Not My Mother: A Memoir", saying that it could be gotten for free on Amazon for Mother's Day only.

Again: Like I'm going to turn down a free book?  Not on your life!

I didn't really know much about this book when I hit the button that would have it magically delivered to my Kindle.  I knew from the brief description that the author had been through a LOT of abuse -- from her parents especially, including incest. I didn't fully read the description until after I'd received it and read it, actually.

I've read memoirs from abuse survivors before (such as "Step On a Crack, You Break Your Father's Back" -- the heart-wrenching life of Vanessa Morelli Ferris) and they're not an easy thing to read, especially if you tend toward an empathic nature.

Ashley Rae presents her story in a poignantly real fashion.  One of the hugely remarkable differences I found while reading this is that even when she speaks of the abuse she was put through by her parents and by other people, while she conveys the pain it caused, she remains miraculously free of the hate that might have taken down a weaker person.

The book starts with a memory of being with her mother, who was left quite disfigured after a murder attempt made by Ashley's biological father when she was very young. Her mother was concerned that Ashley would be embarrassed to be seen with her.  The tender-while-rough first glimpse Ashley gives us of her mother becomes hard to reconcile with the raging woman spoken of later in the book who wielded a knife at her own daughter.  And, all the while, Ashley worries she will turn out to be abusive to her own child as her mother was to her.

The book is presented in a skillfully-non-linear fashion as Ashley takes us from the first moment she discovered her pregnancy through birth, giving us glimpses of her past in well-told flashbacks.  My heart wrenched repeatedly for Ashley as she gave the details of what people had done to her as well as the struggles she had to go through to overcome, learn to forgive, and learn to find her strength to not be the doormat to these people again.

At one point she detailed a falling out with someone who had been a very close friend and as I read the details of this friend's dire hatefulness in the end, it hit very close to home as I have had similar experiences with past friends too.

One of my very favorite things about this book is that Ashley writes with zero pretense.  She does not put on a show for you.  She has no qualms in writing about things that might embarrass other writers to reveal, and for that, I would trust her far more easily than others.  Anyone who can write about the hilarity of uncontrollable bodily functions and not bat an eye while you're left collapsing in laughter over the droll wording has my utter confidence.  Not many people would have the stones to even go there.  It was things like that, as well as her unflinching revealing of her own characteristic short-comings that had me exclaiming many times throughout the book  "My gods, I would so hang out with her!"

Reading her book was like reading the book of someone I'd known all my life.  It was like reading the words of my two very best friends in the entire world.  She doesn't write in a way that makes her seem unapproachable.  If I were to see her on the street after reading this, I, admittedly, would still probably want to squeal a bit, but I could also picture hanging out with her and chatting over a cup of tea or coffee.  Plus, I have to admit, it was extremely refreshing to see the survivor's tale written from the perspective of a fellow Pagan and to see how she leaned on her faith to get past all she'd been through.

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 Stars and I would very highly recommend this book to every Pagan I can think of.  Plus, as she details in the Afterword, 10% of all the proceeds of this book goes to help the son of a very dear late friend of hers.

Seriously guys, this book is a very worthy buy all around.  Not only are you getting a great read, but you're also contributing to a wonderful cause.

You can find this book on Amazon here, you can check out Ashley's personal website here, and you can find her on Facebook here and her book's Facebook page here.


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