I was truly touched by this memoir by Diane Pomerantz. Her honesty and candor, as well as her shard recollection of her life’s experiences is truly inspiring and, as a person interested in human relationships, I found this book speaking to my soul. Diane Pomerantz writes as if in conversation. Perhaps this comes from her decades of work as a child psychologist. The writing has a conversational flow and is emotional without being overly flowery or expressive. She states later in the book that writing is very therapeutic for her and this is evident to the reader.
This is a memoir about a life full of challenging experiences to which many people can relate but also moments that are so unique to her story. The author takes us through her years as a married person and into her later years and up to the present. We experience her meeting her husband. He is a physician and she is a child psychologist. They build a life together, including many issues with fertility and adoption. We experience their early years of marriage, including intense difficulties with fertility and adoption. There are many heartbreaking incidents like when the young couple adopts a baby, names him, and brings him home only to find out that the birth mother has changed her mind. It is inspiring how the author faces these challenges, she is rocked to the core but also finds a way to move forward. It’s beautiful how she got both of her children. I loved this part of the story. It made me laugh when she said her daughter liked her new brother for the first few weeks but was then ready to send him back! My son said similar things about his baby brother in the beginning, so this made me smile.
As the years go on, we watch her husband’s true personality come to forefront. It is truly disturbing to watch this unfold. She sees certain things in the beginning that are red flags but continues raising her children with him and even working together. There is a story about how she and Charles co-treat a young woman for anxiety and Pomerantz is alarmed by his dismissive response to the patient. Through the author’s struggles with illness she discovers more and more truths about her husband. It was alarming to read the breakdown of their partnership and his actions and state of mind. Her descriptions were so alarming at times, yet I believed every detail.
There is a lot of difficulty, trauma, and heartbreak in this book, but it all comes around to a positive ending and left me feeling like I was more aware in my own marriage and relationships. I like that she is able to move forward without anger, even though she doesn’t have to forgive. I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was so comfortable and easy to read. The authors candor about her life are refreshing in a world where people often only want to show the good.
Pages: 337 | ASIN: B07414L8B6
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Inevitable Dreaming follows Waldemar struggling to cope with the loss of his family as a friend suggests a new virtual reality therapy? What served as your inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?
The goal was to describe a dreamworld in the tropics and then confront the reader with the harsh reality that superstition, “magical” beliefs—a broad category that ranges from beliefs in mythical animals, to connections with animals’ fabled properties, to spiritualism and traditions—have an impact on the welfare of real-life animals and ecosystems. 3D virtual reality therapy was a means to get to this goal.
This novel does a very good job at examining the self-deprecating nature of some people. What is Waldemar character based on?
He is a criticaster of tunnel-vision in police investigations and of the argument’s judges tend to use in the name of the law. So, as a character, he is critical towards anything that leads to prepossession, prejudice or any other bias really (in my next novel, the game changer, he comes back shortly as a helper in finding this tunnel-vision in business around the harbor of Rotterdam). Then, in his own dreamworld, he might discover something about himself regarding this personality trait. I will not tell you in detail, since that would spoil the reading/plot.
I felt that this novel was about personal tragedy and grief. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this novel?
Superstition, animal welfare and most definitely also ‘’revenge’’. Revenge is one of the main underlining themes of this book. I thought it was especially interesting to see what a character like Waldemar, living for the law and ethics, becomes when feeling this urge for revenge.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Currently, I am working on two books, but I am not sure they will ever be finished.
At the moment forensic psychologist Waldemar van Splunteren is defending himself against an inquiry, thereby challenging his unjust suspension, something terrible happens: his wife and child are being killed in a tragic accident. He loses himself in self-pity and avoids any contact with the outside world. Only Miriam, a prosecutor and a good friend of his wife, does not budge. She advises him to try a new form of meditative, virtual reality therapy. During these sessions, Waldemar comes to know slowly what actually happened. He decides to investigate it all along with Miriam, leading them to Borneo, Indonesia.
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Cynthia Roggeman’s personal memoir details the events throughout her life. She goes into great detail about her relationships, family and health complications. She does this while offering snippets of advice and wisdom that she has learned along the way. The book is often upsetting and full of events – on a number of occasions it seems as everything is happening at once for our author. She shares her life’s journey with the intention of learning from the process of writing and to divulge the positive aspects that result from a lifetime of hardship.
The sections about her family, mainly her father and her Italian grandmother, Nonni, are bittersweet and filled with memories that she describes in the manner of a child – because at the time she did not understand what was going on. Her childhood was filled with both happy and sad memories and she does not seem to resent any of the negative aspects at all. In her family circle, she experiences alcoholism and mental illness – which she regards as a choice.
Throughout her life, she has various serious health issues and is in the hospital a number of times. She suffers quite badly and even has to learn to self-medicate – something which carries a great responsibility, even if it is towards yourself. However, she does not let these problems set her back and each time she recovers and returns to work and normal life – this is not a woman who gives up easily.
The book is separated into short chapters, each beginning with a date. This makes it easier to place the events in the author’s life as they are not in chronological order. At times it can be difficult to remember at what age things occurred for her but she has ordered it according to her own time frame and reference of events – how she feels events in her past relate to each other. This is reflective of a realistic memory because often things do not go through our minds in order and jump around randomly.
She has written the book for it to be a therapeutic process, it seems to be a place for her grief, hope, and wisdom. She has learned to be imaginative and to really remember her past self. She has also learned to be grateful for the things she has, as well as the things she had. She writes that she has had to mourn her losses and accept them, as well as remember the fond memories.
Cynthia’s novel is a work of remembrance, which will make any reader reflect on their own lives and take heed of her writing. The deeply personal writing is both engaging and emotional, however sometimes it can be hard to keep track of the order things that happened. She urges us to be grateful, flexible and open to new things and changes and to be powerful – just like the blue dragonfly.
Pages: 100 | ASIN: B07DNDWFKN
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Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us is a guide for people who find themselves dealing with people they find difficult. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As a recovering difficult person, I find myself aching for the people who didn’t say anything to me as I gaffed, who avoided me rather than take the time to help me see how annoying I was. I wrote the book for all of us who avoid difficult people, to help them actually have conversations with them. And I wrote it for the difficult people who sometimes never know how they are perceived by others and feel lonelier and angrier and distanced from others.
I understand that you are a successful workshop leader and trainer. What is one common misconception you find that people have about ‘difficult people’?
One common misconception people have about difficult people is that their behavior is purposefully hurtful; deliberately unkind.
I enjoyed the personal stories you shared. Was this always going to be a guide book, do you think this could have easily been a memoir?
I wanted to help people understand how difficult people are unaware of their impact on others and to do that I had to use my own life stories. It could have been a memoir but my passion is helping difficult people discover that they can change and the only people who tell them would be the readers. Thus, I included the exercises and practice processes for having a conversation.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope readers will look at difficult people differently and look for ways to help. I hope readers will see that difficult behavior is a habit, and it can be changed.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a book with more stories about my life in terms of how I changed, with the focus on how difficult people can change; either a reader or a friend of a reader.
The funny thing is that Sarah Elliston never realized she was “a difficult person,” –someone who harangued people until she got her way, threw snip fits and temper tantrums, talked over her bosses and pointed out what she thought were their misconceptions. In her family, where she felt bullied, the only way she knew how to get someone’s attention and approval was to voice her opinion–and loudly! Without standing her ground, how could she do what she thought was best for herself and everyone else around her. She wasn’t intentionally mean-spirited. She was just trying to do what she thought was RIGHT!
Until a kind, but firm, boss woke her up! With great compassion, and strength, her boss pointed out that her actions had consequences. That in being “difficult,” she was not only disrupting the office camaraderie and production, but impeding her own professional advancement.
That’s the beginning of Sarah’s transformation– when she started on the journey to leave behind the difficult person, and become the woman who teaches others how to deal with difficult people. Sarah “Sam” Elliston is now bringing forth her vital manual on how to awaken the challenging personality, and change both the relationship and the environment with her new book Dealing with Difficult People; Lessons Learned from a Difficult Person.
Today, Elliston is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who offers wisdom learned the hard way–and through rigorous study and certification in many areas of professional training that aid her in her work — Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. She is a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute. Glasser is an internationally recognized psychiatrist and developer of Reality Therapy, a method of psychotherapy that teaches people they have a choice in how they choose to behave.
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In the book, From the Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal, author Elizabeth Onyeabor introduces her audience to the sum of her parts, figuratively speaking, and takes the reader through the journey of her life. Readers meet the youthful, bright-eyed, big-hearted, trusting Beth who she has left locked away for decades, and her counterpart, a less trusting and icier persona, Liz, who she adopts abruptly at the beginning of her teen years. Liz is described as the mask that gets her through every day. Liz is the person that coworkers and social media contacts know. She is also painfully drowning in depression. Her only hope of becoming a whole person again is to reconcile with the girl she locked out so many years ago.
Onyeabor’s reflective journey is written as a narrative, a journal, and a collection of poems rolled into one piece. I personally prefer the narratives to the more metaphorical parts of the book. I can identify more with her real-life stories and experiences. However, I do recognize the importance of her poetry. It is cathartic for her. It is a therapeutic release. It is her outlet. It is necessary.
The author dives very deep into her depression, explaining its breadth and depth. She explains how she feels and why. She describes the magnitude of her sorrow, guilt, shame, obsession, self-deprecation, and even suicidal tendencies. I’ve been lucky enough not to be able to fully comprehend being in such a depressed state, but it gives insight to the reader about what it must be like. It is obviously a constant battle for someone dealing with this degree of depression to keep her head above water. I’m sure those who are prone to depression would take solace in knowing there is someone out there who understands, and that they are not alone in the quagmire that Onyeabor describes.
In my eyes, Onyeabor is your typical wife and mother who makes sure everyone is taken care of, everyone but herself. Also, typical of mothers and women in general, she places the blame for literally everything that could possibly go wrong in her entire family on herself. She is the fixer. She feels like anything that is broken happened by her own hands. She also feels like she has the responsibility of sweeping up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and perfectly gluing them all back together. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect. She continues to chase perfection anyway. Never hitting that mark feeds her depression.
Another identifiable theme throughout the book is striving for spiritual perfection. Readers will see themselves in this struggle as old as time itself. Good vs. evil. We are often our own harshest judges in this aspect as well. She holds herself to unreachable standards. That perfection thing never quite happens, and it leaves Onyeabor feeling like a sinner at times.
I did find myself at times questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could be so depressed. I guess that’s the point. Living in exotic places, vacationing in Paris, having a successful job, raising independent kids. Those things aren’t always enough. Those things are sometimes painted façades stretched across crumbling buildings. I also feel for her family. It couldn’t have been easy for them to never hit that perfect mark either, and to feel helpless. They wanted to help her. They just couldn’t. It’s a personal choice to stay in the dark caves you’re accustomed to or to step out into the light. It’s a long walk. A journey. I cheered her on for deciding to take those first steps.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is written well, but can feel repetitive. There are also a lot of breaks in the flow due to the poetry entries. Over all, I think it could be very useful to readers dealing with depression. It will give them strength to pursue their passions and hope that there are brighter days on the horizon.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01MTKFS9U
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With Angel’s Wings is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. I understand that this book was based on your life. What made you want to put your story into a novel?
I never meant to write a book. I wrote therapeutically through some tough times (which was helpful). Nurses and therapists who were in our home through those years read what I had written and strongly encouraged me to share our story. Well…all except for one physical therapist who said, “Be careful who you allow to read this; child protective services may be called.” That bit of advice certainly fed into any misgivings and concerns I had about publicizing our tale! After years of prompting, though, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes tight, and sent it out for the world to judge me to their hearts’ content. I’m glad I did. The most gratifying moment was when a mother of a toddler boy who has Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome messaged me and said, “I happened to stumble upon your book. Before I read it, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly understand what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. After reading it, I went out and bought 3 more copies to hand out to my family members in the hopes that as they read about you they’ll better understand me.” That’s what it’s all about, right?
You describe every obstacle encountered as you come to terms with your daughters’ challenges. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Given the fact that I was writing therapeutically, I can’t say any part of our story was particularly difficult to write. Writing it down was what made things a bit easier. That being said, there are multiple parts that I still can’t read without crying (most of the marathon IV poke sessions, when Sarah [“Hannah” in the book] coded in my arms, when she got her I.O.’s…I could go on and on). The one section that I avoid reading whenever possible, and when I do have to read it, I feel physically ill, is the section about my “breakdown” (when I [apparently] threw the knife at my husband). There are so many things I would change if I had the ability to go back, knowing what I know now (not that I’d ever want to!). One of the biggest is the way I addressed my depression (or DIDN’T address, as the case often was). I now understand just how big a role depression (and PTSD) played in our story. I wish I had known more about it then, taken it more seriously…and cut myself a little more slack, which hopefully would have allowed me to relax a little more and address every other aspect of my life a little more successfully.
Hannah’s is diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. What are some misconceptions about this condition and how did you educate yourself on it?
Well, to have misconceptions, I suppose you’d have to have any concept at all. Not only had I never heard of the diagnosis, but very few people I’ve come across have ever heard of it, so finding out I was wrong in my thinking hasn’t really been a problem. Something I definitely understand now that I didn’t before is that within every genetic diagnosis there’s a spectrum – not all with the same diagnosis present the same picture. There are, for instance, individuals with Down Syndrome who you hardly recognize as having the disorder, who are quite independent, and those who are much more involved, who are completely dependent on the care of others. Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome is no different. Some WHS kids are quite high functioning…Sarah is not; she’s at the lower end of the spectrum. I have to remind myself of that, sometimes, when I’m feeling guilty over burnout and other WHS moms are posting about what a JOY their son/daughter is in their lives (along with pictures of them going to prom or enjoying a trip to Disney World). Same diagnosis in no way equates to same experience.
Because there isn’t a ton written about WHS, a lot of what I’ve learned has come more recently, since the explosion of social media. This is the generation that specialists are looking to for data on growth charts and life expectancy. That means we don’t have information to look at, but we have a wealth of experiences shared by many families that offer some clues as to what to possibly expect or watch for.
This is an emotional book that, I felt, was honest. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
For the “general population” reader I hope to offer a “peek in the window” of a family living a life likely very different from their own. When the reader sees a medically fragile child on the street, maybe that child will be looked at with more admiration for his/her strength, rather than pity. Maybe if the reader comes across an autistic child, he/she will be a little more patient and a little less judgmental toward both the child and the parent, alike. It can also be just plain interesting to read about others facing challenges we aren’t. It’s the little details that make you say, “Oh yeah…I never even THOUGHT of that being an issue!”
For readers within the special needs community, I hope to offer hope that if I could find the light at the end of my tunnel, you can, too. I hope to offer companionship by way of admission to my own doubts, frustrations, struggles, and screw-ups. I hope that a fellow special needs parent will understand this book is me saying, “You are not alone. You are not wrong for the way you feel. This, too, shall pass. And you are stronger than you know. You can do this.”
With Angel’s Wings is the true story of Laura, a young wife and mother of a three-year-old daughter. Her husband, Kevin, a marine, is deployed overseas, leaving Laura to give birth to their second daughter and handle the two young children on her own.
Thirteen days after the birth of her youngest, the pediatrician detects a heart murmur. That leads to just the first of multiple diagnoses for both of her daughters, sending Laura on an unexpected and emotional journey into the world of parenting medically-fragile, special needs children.
Right when Laura fears she will break under the incredible pressure, she encounters the beauty of true love, in a most unexpected and unconventional way.
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Elizabeth Antonucci’s Fractured details the author’s own revelations and strides toward bettering herself both mentally and physically. Her idea for the book stems from a car accident which cost her dear friend his life and almost took her own. Antonucci, a successful entrepreneur in the world of theater, begins her story with details of the car accident and the ensuing trauma that brought her closer to those around her. Throughout the book, Antonucci touches on several intensely personal events from her teen through young adult years which ultimately helped her evolve into a young woman who has learned to find peace, satisfaction, and happiness within herself.
Elizabeth Antonucci’s life seems equally filled with tragedy and victories. For every horrific experience she has had, she has been able to triumph. The basis for her book, the accident which took her friend David’s life and so greatly altered her own, draws the reader in during the first chapter. Antonucci has done a wonderful job of engaging the reader in a conversational style of writing and is straightforward with her descriptions of the accident, her recovery, and the therapy that followed.
The writing of Fractured itself appears to have been a type of therapy for the author. As I read, I could feel the cathartic effect it had on Antonucci. She gave herself many permissions, and, as she says, she “spoke her truth.” Antonucci reveals a past riddled with body dysmorphia and a life-long struggle to find her own voice. As a young woman making her way successfully as an actress and entrepreneur, she spends many years finding it easier to be others than to be herself.
As a mother and a woman who battled anorexia in her teens, I thoroughly appreciated Antonucci’s candor regarding her addiction to diet pills and the long uphill battle she faced tearing herself from them. There is no sugar-coating the impact dieting had on her both mentally and physically. She clearly expresses her hope that her words will find their way into the hearts of her readers. I believe she has more than accomplished her goal.
Romantic relationships are yet another area about which the author bares her soul. More men and women than we would all care to admit are involved in emotionally abusive relationships. Antonucci was one of those women. Remaining attached to a boyfriend who controlled her every move changed the dynamic she had with her own family and, ultimately, changed her as a person. She relates a genuine account of how she overcame that obstacle with her father’s gentle words and guidance.
It is difficult to find anything lacking in the author’s personal account of her life-changing events. The introduction was powerful, the conclusion drives home each point Antonucci strives to make throughout the retelling of her life and the many revelations she has had. Her chosen style of writing makes this an easy recommended read for anyone who finds him or herself faltering on the road of self-discovery.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B072M3TYXG
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Charles Creath McCormack’s book Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale is quite a book: a frank autobiography centered around the theme of the pursuit of happiness and a meaningful life, from a man who has sat both on and beside the psychotherapy couch; or as the author himself describes it, “a story of the follies and wisdom’s of the human condition”. Mr. McCormack is fully aware of both the theories and the realities of mental health, although the book contains no technical language at all. It’s an accessible account covering every stage of his life, from his youngest years into his partial retirement. Not to give too much away, but as the imagery of the title implies, his tale starts in darkness, and concludes with a breakthrough, with all the usual human drama of a life lived fully.
I found the style of writing very interesting; it perhaps relates to his experience as a psychotherapist. He makes use of imagery, not frequently, but when he does it’s usually a long, in-depth passage. Thankfully they don’t feel convoluted, because they exemplify his points well.
The imagery adds well to the overall narrative, which is compelling. If I’d had more time, I’d probably have read it in one sitting. Although the author references forward and back to events distant by dozens of years and pages, I was never left feeling confused or lost, so it was neatly accomplished. There was a clear sense of reflection as to what the reader may be thinking, and at points it almost felt like I was part of a conversation. However, I thought that near the end the narrative became a little unfocused, with some unnecessary repetition and description of his family that doesn’t always feel directly related to his main subject – his state of mind.
I want to describe it as a generous story, because I was given extremely honest details about Mr. McCormack’s life that many would have found embarrassing to tell. But he hides no faults or uncomfortable thoughts, and constantly admits when he was wrong. In one chapter the author relates the unfortunate stories of some of his patients. In this way, the book truly covers the full gamut of human experience – warmth, love, friendship, loneliness, unhappiness, violence, despair: life and death.
Despite the author’s wishes that we might take responsibility for our happiness, his book is not a manual for how to obtain it. Observant readers might pluck helpful wisdom from its pages, but this isn’t written as advice – just as he says he does with his patients, he places no obligation on us to try it.
Overall, I would recommend this to any adult reader who is willing to confront life’s uncomfortable truths and those who enjoy a fly-on-the-wall tale of other’s joys and sorrows. I enjoyed trip.
Pages: 373 | ASIN: B06XFG5G3M
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