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The Fragments Left Behind

Omar Gonzalez
Omar Gonzalez Author Interview

Paradise Taken shares the story of Eden Flores to inspire and inform readers of the lasting effects of child abuse and sexual trauma. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Initially, I just set out to tell the story of my lifelong friend, Eden Flores. However, the more I heard about her traumatic childhood experiences, my inspiration changed. I did not just want to write a book about Eden Flores’ early life; I wanted to write a book that would inspire all who seek to understand or overcome the fragments left behind from child abuse and sexual trauma.

What was the most challenging thing you faced when putting this book together?

The most challenging part was the multiple interviews I conducted with Eden Flores. Some of the discussions became so intense that I often felt very uncomfortable and emotional and even stopped the interviews to give Eden and me a break.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

Paradise Taken needed to serve as an advocacy recourse for sexual trauma and domestic violence victims. Sharing these strong and mature topics with Paradise Taken readers would also expose them to delicate and terrible issues some may find unfamiliar.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

I want readers to recollect the abuses young Eden had suffered and reflect on the ways childhood abuse and trauma rob people of their innocence and impact every facet of their outlook for the rest of their lives.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Award-nominated author Omar Gonzalez returns to form with his trademark mixture of poetry and prose. In his debut collection, The Phantom Struggle: Memoirs of a Life Once Struggling, Omar examined the personal experiences that have defined his life to date-love and heartache, adventure, domestic violence, and more. In this follow-up, Omar dives deeper into the topic of childhood trauma by embodying the persona of his lifelong friend Eden Flores. The result, Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores, is unlike anything that Omar has ever written. Through various forms, the book ultimately serves to honor the story of Eden Flores while inspiring all who seek to understand or overcome the vestiges of child abuse and sexual trauma.

Paradise Taken

Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I by [Omar Gonzalez]

In Paradise Taken author Omar Gonzalez tells the story of an American girl born to a naturalized Hispanic father. The author describes him as a physically abusive companion to his wife and his children. When their mother leaves them with their father, he escalates his alcoholism and physical violence. His daughter, whom he prefers, dresses like a boy and becomes the subject to his sexual violence. She does not disclose this to anyone, and it eats at her. When they finally leave their dad to go to their uncle’s, they are reunited with their mother, and some semblance of closure is achieved.

Paradise Taken is an emotionally-charged memoir that progressively escalates the plot by explaining the main protagonist’s life from different points of view. The narrator portrays her abusive father as a rounded character, protective and caring for his family but also a drunk, violent, and a sexual offender. In this way I think the book does a great job of showing the duality of a person.

I like how the author extracts from Eden’s journals in the chapter “Like a Boy,” giving a glimpse into what it was like, living in a constantly oppressive environment—added to the fact that they are also immigrants. A bias that exposes their dad to a racist interaction with a police officer. 

The way the author uses the third person perspective to highlight this family’s development gives readers first-hand experiences of the oppressive environment they were in. The letters by the protagonist make the pain of her abuse along with that of her mother’s are very relatable.

Paradise Taken is a remarkable translation of Eden’s story from her diary. This is a stirring and thought-provoking biography that is relatable across genders and social structures. This is an illuminating and impassioned story that is guaranteed to stick with you long after you have put the book down.

Pages: | ASIN: B09CW9P87B

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