Category: Memoirs

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich: An Emotionally Gut-Wrenching True Crime / Memoir Mash-Up

May 18, 2017 Memoirs 4

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichNonfiction – Memoir / True Crime
Released May 16, 2017
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (published by Flatiron Books)

Headline

Though not perfect, The Fact of a Body is a thoroughly unique, complex, and emotionally gut-wrenching mash-up of true crime story and dysfunctional childhood memoir.

Plot Summary

Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the painful story of her upbringing in an abusive family with the true story of the murder of a five year-old boy by a sex offender (Ricky Langley).

Why I Read It

A mash-up of a dysfunctional childhood memoir with true crime literally couldn’t be any farther up my alley. Plus, Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You (my review), called it a “marvel.”

Major Themes

Crime, Mental Illness, Pedophilia, Childhood Trauma, Abuse, Family Secrets

What I Loved

  • This memoir / true crime mash-up is totally unique and was mostly (see below) successful for me. Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the true story of the murder of five year old Jeremy Guillory by convicted sex offender Ricky Langley (and Langley’s childhood and coming of age) with the story of her own family and childhood, which resembles Ricky’s in surprising ways.
  • The farther I read, the more sense it made to meld these two stories into one book.
  • Marzano-Lesnevich’s exploration of the making of a sex offender is frightening and heart-breaking all at the same time. And, the juxtaposition of reading about the perpetrator of a sex crime alongside the victim of a sex crime gives this story incredible depth and nuance…and certainly brought up some complex feelings for me.
  • By the end of the book, I was just heart-broken about all of it and surprisingly emotionally gutted.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The Fact of a Body has been compared to In Cold Blood, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Serial, and Making A Murderer. For me, the Serial and Making A Murderer comparisons were unfounded and misleading. Serial and Making A Murderer focused heavily on “is or isn’t the suspect actually guilty?” And, that’s not what The Fact of a Body does at all. Rather, you know who the perpetrator is right away and there is never any question of his guilt. The Fact of a Body is more an exploration into the psyche of a killer and sex offender…a la In Cold Blood.
  • Initially, I found the writing style and structure a bit tedious. The shifts between Ricky/Jeremy and Marzano-Lesnevich’s childhood were jumpy and Marzano-Lesnevich injected her own opinions/speculation into the Ricky/Jeremy story with statements like “he must have been thinking X” or “maybe he does Y,” which I found annoying. However, either I eventually got used to the style or things smoothed out farther into the book, because it bothered me much less by the end.

A Defining Quote

But how could I fight for what I believed when as soon as a crime was personal to me, my feelings changed? Every crime was personal to someone.

Good for People Who Like…

True Crime, dysfunctional childhood memoirs, dysfunctional families, emotional gut-wrenchers

Other Books You May Like

Another true crime book focusing on the psyche of a killer:
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Looking for a specific book recommendation? I’ve got you covered!
Participate in a limited time, free trial of my
new PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATION service!

 

Dirty Chick by Antonia Murphy: What I Learned About Country Livin’

January 22, 2015 Books to Read, Memoirs 9

Nonfiction – MemoirDirty Chick, antonia murphy
Released January 22, 2015
256 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher

Plot Summary

After sailing the world for a few years, San Francisco urbanite Antonia and her husband, Peter, settle in a remote farm community in New Zealand (Purua) hoping to find a stable environment for their developmentally delayed son…and end up becoming amateur farmers.

My Thoughts

Dirty Chick is a fun, eye-opening, hilarious romp through what happens when a city girl decides to become a “lifestyle farmer” (i.e. farming for the fun of it, not as an actual occupation). It’s a quirky book and is chock full of gross animal stories (i.e. if you can’t handle reading about the bodily functions of goats, this book is not for you!). And, I loved Murphy’s voice. I felt like I was listening to that best friend who manages to get into the most bizarre situations, but always has a great story to tell.

But, what really made Dirty Chick for me was all the totally weird things I learned about farm animals and country living. Here’s a sampling:

  • A duck’s penis is HUGE (as long as the duck’s entire body!), “spiny”, and “shaped like a corkscrew”. I’m going to look at those sweet things my son feeds at the pond slightly differently now!
  • Chickens complete all their bodily functions through the same hole (the “supervagina”, as Murphy calls it).
  • Homemade wines (which can be made from fruit, sugar, water, and yeast) are extremely potent, but don’t give you hangovers! Apparently, hangovers are caused by all the chemicals found in commercially produced wine.
  • Eating animal colostrum (a mother’s “first milk”, which contains tons of antibodies) is completely accepted and even encouraged in farm communities. And, it apparently makes a delicious pudding. Kourtney Kardashian, do you hear this?!

Amidst all this lightness and humor is the Murphy’s struggle with their developmentally delayed son, Silas. An error in his genetic code causes him to lag behind in almost all developmental areas, especially his speech. The Murphys try to give him as normal a life as possible and he seems to thrive in the country, but are constantly facing issues with his health. The story of Silas gives Dirty Chick an added dimension that takes it beyond quirky chic lit.

Dirty Chick is an unique, light read and a great pick if you’re looking for something short. It’s going on my “Great Books Under 300 Pages” (coming this winter) and 2015 Summer Reading lists (coming in May, click here for last year’s Summer Reading List).

You May Also Like:

Still Points North by Leigh Newman
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff: Book Review

November 20, 2014 Books to Read, Memoirs, Nonfiction 7

Nonfiction November

This post is part of Nonfiction November hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca at I’m Lost in Books, and Leslie at Regular Rumination.

Nonfiction – MemoirMy Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff, memoirs, J.D. Salinger
Released June, 2014

274 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary of My Salinger Year:

The story of Rakoff’s experience as a young woman in the 90’s living in NYC and working at the literary agency representing reclusive legend, J.D. Salinger. 

My Thoughts on My Salinger Year:

Though the title mentions Salinger, he is not the main focus of My Salinger Year. Sure, he makes appearances, but this is more of a coming of age story about a young girl trying to make it in NYC and a company trying to adjust to the modern world. You do not have to be a Salinger fan to enjoy this book. I was pleasantly surprised by this and ended up loving this book…enough to push it onto my upcoming Best Books of 2014 List and my Holiday Gift Guide!

At first, I kept thinking Rakoff was living in the 1950’s rather than the 1990’s. The smoking in the office, the typewriters (and accompanying lack of computers), and the huge Dictaphone contraptions all confounded me until I read this quote from Joanna’s friend, Jenny…

But really the Agency is like something out of Dickens. You step inside, and it’s like you’ve time traveled back a hundred years.

Then, I realized I was supposed to have been Jedi mind tricked into thinking I was watching an episode of “Mad Men”! However, this element was the source of a lot of the story’s humor and eccentricity.

What really made me love My Salinger Year was Rakoff’s tone and writing style (hence the number of quotes in this review!). She writes with humor, irony, and an appreciation for the ridiculous.

On her increasingly irrelevant boss:

My boss, as far as I knew, had no children, and she – like a certain breed of adult – appeared to have never been a child herself, but rather to have materialized on earth fully formed, in a taupe-hued pantsuit, cigarette in hand.

I especially loved her commentary on Don, her Communist boyfriend who tries so hard to be “authentic” that he ends up just being ridiculous.

He surrounded himself with fools – the broken, the failed or failing, the sad and confused – so that he might be their king. Which, obviously, made him nothing but the king of fools.

 

Don had refused to come home with me for my grandmother’s birthday, citing his opposition to the tradition, but – here again – I suspected that this alleged ideological stance might be simply a smoke screen for either poverty or cheapness, that he didn’t want to spend the money on a bus ticket, not to mention a gift for my grandmother.

Though I’m not a devoted Salinger fan and the only thing of his that I’ve read is The Catcher in the Rye (and I’ve only read that once…in high school), I did enjoy his eccentricity and found the humor in all the intricate rules that surrounded the Agency’s “handling” of him. I also enjoyed learning some of the history behind his writing and am now more likely to reread The Catcher in the Rye at some point.

Rakoff’s writing and the coming-of-age element to her story made this one of my favorite books of the year and my favorite memoir of the year. 


Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim: Book Review

November 11, 2014 Books to Read, Memoirs, Nonfiction 11

Nonfiction November

I read this book as part of Nonfiction November hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca at I’m Lost in Books, and Leslie at Regular Rumination.

Nonfiction – MemoirWithout You There is No Us, Suki Kim, North Korea
Released October, 2014
304 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary of Without You, There Is No Us:

A memoir of Suki Kim’s time teaching English in a Christian missionary sponsored school (Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, aka PUST) for elite North Korean college age men outside of Pyongyang, North Korea.

My Thoughts on Without You, There is No Us:

Without You, There Is No Us shares a fascinating and horrifying glimpse into the black box that is North Korea, an “unknown and unknowable” world as Kim describes it. I’ve been fascinated with life in North Korea ever since I read the novel, The Orphan Master’s Son (which I didn’t like overall, but it did whet my appetite for more information about North Korea). 

A lot of the book covers Kim’s experience as a PUST teacher…

Kim, a native of South Korea that immigrated to the U.S. at age thirteen, was using her role as a teacher at PUST to clandestinely gather material for her journalism career. Like all the teachers at PUST, she was watched constantly by North Korean “minders”, her lesson plans were approved in advance, and her movements were severely restricted. She was not allowed to share information about the outside world with her students and was too terrified of the consequences to try to circumvent the rules. I wondered what would have happened had she been honest with her students about the broader world. A part of me thinks the deluge of information would have been so earth shattering for them that they wouldn’t have been able to wrap their heads around the implications at all. These were so-called “elite” students that had never heard the word “skiing”. How would they then be able to understand the implications of an open, global Internet? 

But, for me, this book is more about the strong sense of place…

Without You, There Is No Us is the name of a North Korean song with the “you” referring to Kim Jong-il, the country’s former “Dear Leader”…which describes North Korea in a nutshell. It’s a country where not much goes in or comes out (except, Dennis Rodman, apparently). I think it’s this mystery that intrigues me, in the way that snakes intrigue me as long as they’re contained, but terrify me if let loose. After reading Without You, There Is No Us, I am completely flabbergasted that such a backward place can exist in the modern world. The level of isolation, strangeness, and naiveness of its people is breathtaking.

  • North Korea follows a calendar system that counts time from the birth of their original Great Leader, Kim Il-Sung (who died in 1994).
  • All artistic endeavors (books, songs, art, plays, TV shows, etc) are either created by or about the Great Leader.
  • North Korean people cut the grass with scissors.
  • Kim was instructed to either bring or arrange for delivery of her own butter, refrigerator, and toilet paper, as those items are not readily available in North Korea.
  • Jeans are outlawed because Kim Jong-il (North Korea’s leader until very recently) associates them with America.

Though I learned a lot, Without You, There Is No Us left me with even more questions…

Kim’s perspective of life in North Korea from teaching at PUST is predominantly of the elite, ruling class. On infrequent excursions outside the school walls, Kim spotted “small, dark, emaciated people with dead eyes” along the sides of the road and working in fields. I’m now curious about what life is like for them and plan to read Escape from Camp 14, the story of a North Korean labor camp defector, which will hopefully give me the other side of the picture.

If you’re interested in life in North Korea, Without You, There Is No Us is a great place to start. 


First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

July 22, 2014 Memoirs, Nonfiction 13

First Chapter First Paragraph

Every Tuesday, fellow blogger Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff, memoirs, J.D. Salinger

Plot Summary from Amazon
Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms.

Here’s the first LONG paragraph (and holy run-on first sentence!!)…

There were hundreds of us, thousands of us, carefully dressing in the gray morning light of Brooklyn, Queens, the Lower East Side, leaving our apartments weighed down by tote bags heavy with manuscripts, which we read as we stood in line at the Polish bakery, the Greek deli, the corner diner, waiting to order our coffee, light and sweet, and our Danish, to take on the train, where we would hope for a seat so that we might read more before we arrived at our offices in midtown, Soho, Union Square. We were girls, of course, all of us girls, emerging from the 6 train at Fifty-First Street and walking past the Waldorf-Astoria, the Seagram Building on Park, all of us clad in variations on a theme – the neat skirt and sweater, redolent of Sylvia Plath at Smith – each element purchased by parents in some comfortable suburb, for our salaries were so low we we could barely afford our rent, much less lunch in the vicinities of our offices or dinners out, even in the cheap neighborhoods we’d populated, sharing floor-throughs with other girls like us, assistants at other agencies or houses or the occasional literary nonprofit. […]

I confess, I did not give you the entire first paragraph…because it went on so long (3 full Kindle screens!) that I got tired of typing and figured y’all wouldn’t read the whole thing anyway! So, what you saw was the first Kindle screen and a half!

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Stay tuned for my full review…


Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: Book Review

June 18, 2014 Books to Skip, Memoirs, Nonfiction 5

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened was the selection for my Book Club’s May, 2014 meeting.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson, blogger, The Bloggess, memoirNonfiction – Memoir
Released April, 2012
384 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon

Plot Summary of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:

Jenny Lawson’s (aka “The Bloggess”, a successful lifestyle blogger) memoir of growing up in rural Texas with her eccentric family (including a taxidermist father) and her struggles to “fit in” in adulthood.

My Thoughts on Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:

Initially, I thought I was going to love this book. At first, when Lawson focused on her childhood, I laughed so hard tears were streaming down my face. But, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened sadly ended up being a ski slope read for me…meaning it started off with a bang and went consistently downhill from there.

Lawson grew up in Wall, Texas…a land where professional armadillo racing, “show pigs”, housing chickens in filing cabinets, and kids driving to school on their tractors were considered somewhat normal. Lawson talks about these experiences (and her taxidermist father!) in a hilarious, un-PC way…and she could care less if you’re offended! I should say that, if you are easily offended (by the f-bomb, guns, or killing animals to name a few), then you should probably stay far away from this book…but, I’m not and I loved this part of the book.

I particularly loved any story having to do with Jenny’s father, who is completely off the reservation, yet does not care what anyone thinks of him. He delights in shocking “polite company” with various stunts (i.e. boiling animal skulls in the back yard and throwing live bobcats into the living room) and my enjoyment of Lawson’s memoir seemed to ebb and flow in direct proportion to the presence or absence of Papa Lawson. I wanted to meet the guy!

Sadly, as the book goes on, Lawson focuses more on her adult life and Papa Lawson plays less of a role. This is where things fell off the rails for me. She struggles with anxiety (particularly social) and this comes through in her writing…I got anxious and exhausted just reading her thoughts! She often goes off on tangents that are completely unrelated to her story and I found it difficult to stay focused. By the time she returned to the story from a given tangent, I just didn’t care anymore…and, that’s if I remembered the original story in the first place. I think her writing style and sense of humor probably lend themselves very well to a blog and Twitter (i.e. read in small snippets), but is just too overwhelming for a full length book.

The good parts of this book are extremely funny, but there just weren’t enough of them to overcome the scattered story-telling style.


Waiting on Wednesday: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

June 4, 2014 Memoirs, Nonfiction, Waiting on Wednesday 6

Waiting on Wednesday meme

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we are anticipating.

Nonfiction – MemoirMy Salinger Year
Release Date June 3, 2014
Publisher: Knopf

274 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

My Salinger Year was Bookpage.com’s Nonfiction Top Pick for June 2014 and their review got me so excited to read this book! The prospect of another Miranda Priestley-type boss sounds deliciously juicy and I always love stories about young girls trying to “make it” in NYC. Not to mention the setting of the literary agency representing not only Salinger, but F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner.

Plot Summary from Amazon
A memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms.

What book are you waiting for?

Book Review: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

April 5, 2014 Books to Skip, Cooking / Food, Memoirs, Nonfiction 12

Weekend Cooking, Cooking books, food books

This post is part of fellow book blogger, Beth Fish Reads‘, weekly meme (a “community” blog post, for all those non-bloggers out there) called Weekend Cooking. I originally reviewed Yes, Chef in November, 2013, but thought I would bring it out again for Weekend Cooking!

Yes Chef, Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster, Top ChefNonfiction – Cooking/Memoir (Released June, 2012)
Bottom Line: Skip it…unless you love cooking and restaurants.
Link to this book on Amazon

Plot Summary:
Chef Marcus Samuelsson shares his background as an Ethiopian orphan adopted by a Swedish family and his rise through the culinary world, culminating in a “Top Chef Masters” win and his own restaurant, Red Rooster.

My Thoughts:
I had mixed feelings about this book. The first part was repetitive and slow-moving, even though Samuelsson has a unique personal story (i.e. lots of material for a memoir). There are other books that describe culinary school and what it’s like to try to “make it” as an elite chef with much more vibrancy.

I also wish he had included more about his experience on “Top Chef Masters” – which would have helped this book appeal to a broader audience.

However, the last part of the book really picked up – I loved learning the history behind the NYC restaurants he was involved with, especially how he founded Red Rooster and made it a success against unfavorable odds. Big time “foodies” may enjoy this book, but it is too niche to recommend to a general audience.

Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad: Book Review

March 19, 2014 Books to Read, Memoirs, Nonfiction 3

A big thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with an electronic copy of this book and for inviting me to be a host on this tour.

Shadows in the Sun, Gayathri Ramprasad, India, Memoir, depressionNonfiction – Memoir
Released February, 2014
240 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it…if you are interested in depression / mental illness.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary of Shadows in the Sun:

The story of “Gayu’s” (as she’s called) struggle with depression as a teenager in Bangalore, India and her fight to manage her illness upon moving to America with her husband.

My Thoughts on Shadows in the Sun:

Gayu has an idyllic childhood as the oldest daughter in a respected Indian family. Her parents are fairly Americanized (especially her father) and believe that Gayu should focus on her education in preparation for emigrating to America one day. However, that doesn’t mean that her family has moved beyond many deeply held Indian beliefs – and this tug of war between cultures is part of what made Shadows in the Sun an interesting memoir.

I loved learning about the differences in Indian and American culture – and there are many! Indians believe in arranged marriage (Gayu’s marriage is arranged), a patriarchal household and society (women’s role at home is to serve the men – the women even serve the men dinner and only eat their own dinner once the men have finished!), dependence on extended family, and, most importantly for Gayu, and that mental illness brings shame and dishonor on the family. Gayu, like her father, is independent and “Americanized” and is constantly trying to be a “good daughter” according to both sets of cultural norms. This tension is part of what exacerbates her depression.

In addition to the cultural differences, I loved seeing America through Gayu’s eyes when she first arrived from India. She shares her childlike wonder at mundane things like quiet neighborhoods, escalators, and orderly parking garages. 

I liked reading about Gayu’s recovery from depression, particularly her focus on overall wellness to manage her disease after drugs proved unsuccessful. And, her focus on general wellness is a good guide for both those living with and without depression.

With this memoir, Ramprasad increased awareness of the Indian attitude toward mental illness and how damaging it is to those suffering with it. In India, mental illness is rarely acknowledged, much less treated appropriately. Many families resort to “prayer” and ancient rituals to “cure” a family member’s depression – and that’s if the family acknowledges the depression at all. 

While I wouldn’t recommend Shadows in the Sun to everyone, it’s a hopeful book for those suffering from depression (and their loved ones), particularly those who are not responding to drugs. 

You May Also Like:
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

TLC Book Tours



First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad

March 4, 2014 Memoirs, Nonfiction 7

First Chapter First Paragraph

Every Tuesday fellow blogger Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

Shadows in the Sun, Gayathri Ramprasad, India, Memoir, depression

I’m participating in an upcoming online tour for this book through TLC Book Tours. I agreed to review this book because my cousin and his family are currently living in Bangalore, India, so I was curious to read about the culture there.

Shadows in the Sun Plot Summary from Amazon:
As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her fairytale-like kingdom—with the scariest creatures lurking within her. The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. “I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears.” Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Hindu culture has no concept of depression, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious illness.

Here’s the second paragraph of the Prologue (which I chose because it’s a much better introduction to the story than the first paragraph!):

“Mine was a world of otherworldly tales, castles, flickering oil lamps, and fragrant sandalwood dreams. At some point in a fairy-tale life, I suppose, it should come as no surprise to discover dragons, demons, and dungeons in the dark corners of the kingdom. What was surprising was to discover that all the scariest creatures were within me, and that the castle of my dreams could become a prison from which the only escape was death. Later, I would discover that these demons had names: anxiety disorder, suicidal depression, postpartum depression, mental illness. But for nearly a decade of my life, I had no words for it. ‘It’ was me. In that fairy-tale life, I turned out to be both dragon and dragon slayer, but it did not start out that way. In the beginning, I was a princess.” 

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Stay tuned for my full review on March 19…