While tracking the rural environment of Placerville, Sacramento, Glenn Ellen, and California’s rural foothills, This or Something Better by Elisa Stancil Levine presents an alternate shift from childhood reminiscence to dark, intense memories laced with perseverance and adaptability. The memoir begins in 2017, with a fire scorching acres of land in Sonoma Country, including the residential area of the author. It then shifts back and forth between adolescence and maturity, following the author’s frantic journey from self-containment to the never-ending pursuit of truth.
When the decorative artist leaves the fire land without informing any of her neighbors, the firestorm not only causes havoc with the natural animals and property but also prompts a series of introspective questions in her mind. Her story of estrangement and persistence takes readers on a journey through her eventful and incredible life. Having grown up in a reproachable neighborhood, lost her first child as a teenage mother, and having been labeled a murderer by her grandmother, the author takes readers on a roller-coaster journey through her past and present. It is at the end of the story that she discovers how to forgive herself for many of her self-proclaimed acts of accusation and discover the ultimate question that nudges her curiously from childhood- ‘what it means to be a human?’
The narrative is full of genuine viewpoints and a critical analysis of the numerous issues that plague a child’s head after experiencing sexual abuse, as well as their parents’ disapproval of their dreams and viewpoints. In addition to the spiritual inquiry, the fact that nature has a vital hold on the human psyche manifests itself in the reflections of the author, a nature girl. This or Something Better takes readers on a spiritual quest that comes with the inevitable questioning of who we are as human beings.
Beginning in 1953 in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, every memory and experience from childhood is dusted off the memory attic in the memoir, complete with nostalgia, anguish, and ambition. It’s a terrific prescription for women of the times, as it aids in the healing of wounds created by uncertain relationships, child loss, adolescent parenthood, and the relentless efforts to silence the passionate and compelling voice of an assertive and insistent woman. It’s also a motivational read, with the uplifting message at the end of each chapter: “It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This or Something Better: A Memoir of Resilience takes readers on an introspective journey as they listen to the author’s stories. Sometimes, a biography is just the history of one person’s life; this is more, it is a book of hope, perseverance, and healing.
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