"Love is the answer to the effects of trauma and is the source of resilience and healing."

A deeply moving book that tells of loss, childhood abuse, bullying, multiple marriages, disease and death, love of children, and finally finding strength in friendship and self-acceptance, Robb’s memoir is a well-written story told in raw and unflinching terms. She writes of the “heavy, steel tension,” surrounding the aura of Frank, her father. It was steel that “stole into my body . . . squeezing, wringing out my breath.” Although the narrative deals with her childhood on Knight Street, where her father’s rage was always a simple wrong look or word away, and where as a young girl she experienced the horror of sexual abuse from him, this book is also very much about the author finding, later in life, her own heart and the meaning of self-worth. It’s all about a lifetime of developing, as Robb puts it, skills for survival.

Though the memoir would have been enhanced by some additional editing for grammatical and spelling issues, the story and its many subplots are well-articulated. This is, without doubt, a page-turner—one filled with an expansive range of human emotion and experience. Dipping into such issues as clinical depression, sexuality, violence, the loss of her son to cancer and the associated deep grief, the healing use of humor, social service work, and relationships (both healthy and unhealthy), Robb’s prose is a moving account of an often-gritty life, smoothed over through love, friendship, and being a nurturing mom to two talented children, Tom and Lucy. “Through the many dark days,” she writes, “I wandered in a fog, but gradually I forgave and supported myself. I can now look after myself.” This book could serve an especially potent dose of empathy—and sustained optimism—for others who find themselves in the harsh grip of abuse, whether emotional, physical, sexual, or otherwise.

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