Still Standing
by Jessica M. Ivy
BookVenture Publishing

"If I never would've met my husband, and I was still living with Zelda, I would've been in one of three places right now; in prison, the mental institution, or in the ground..."

As a child, Ivy saw more and knew more than any child should have to see or hear. Her parents were cheating on each other, and she was aware of it even as a youngster. She felt unwanted and unloved throughout her childhood. She explains that her brother and sister, Quincy and Zoe, tried to convince her that she was adopted and not a true family member. Her mother, Zelda, was mean-spirited, violent, and unaffectionate. As Ivy puts it, "I've gotten more beatings and punishments than I did hugs, kisses, and I love you." Her father, Sheldon, was a bright spot, but in and out of her life unpredictably, also leading to her feelings of being unloved and unlovable.

Seemingly searching for love and acceptance, Ivy began sneaking out to see boys in the night and was a teen mom responsible for baby Ursula by age 16. It is a marvel that she came through it all to become a positive, loving, and responsible adult. But, not only is she "still standing," she and her husband are lovingly and dutifully raising their eight children.

This memoir is about being a survivor. Ivy not only survived, but is a strong voice of encouragement for other battered women. Beyond the abuse she endured by her mother until she was nineteen, the father of Ivy's first daughter hit her. Upon reflection, she now offers this advice: "Women have to stand up for ourselves and say ‘No More’! We are better than that! God didn't make women to be punching bags..." She goes on to encourage women to fight back and also to teach their children better. Ivy is a fighter and urges readers to defend themselves, to stand up, and then get out and break the cycle of violence.

The author is to be commended for her bravery and candor in writing this book. She bares her soul and figuratively stands naked in this highly personal and somewhat tragic memoir. She writes from the heart - pleadingly and personally - and no one writes quite like her. For some, her awful childhood might be unimaginable, but other readers might identify and feel empowered that if she survived her childhood ordeal, they can likewise survive their own.

Undoubtedly cathartic for her to write, Ivy’s natural, stream-of-consciousness style and flow makes reading her book feel like you are sitting on a park bench listening to her talk and vent. "Every negative thing that was ever thrown at me, I didn't let it hinder me. Look at me now, I'm writing my first book about my life. I named my book, ‘Still Standing’ for a reason. Nothing and I mean nothing will hinder me. I rise above all the negativity." Ivy is her own best cheerleader, as maybe everyone should be.

Still Standing is a spiritual piece that will likely give religious readers spiritual peace.  Some children emerge from disturbing childhoods destined to continue the cycle of abuse. Others find ways to break the cycle, whether through unique personal strength, a primal will to survive, or divine intervention. In Ivy's case, her unwavering faith in God helped her turn away from her dark past to a seemingly brighter future for herself and her loved ones.

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