Monday, September 22, 2014

If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Emerald Book Company

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Stephanie Henry was born into the world as a child who was always searching for something to make her feel complete. After a series of nightmares layered trauma upon trauma, she took what little control she had and forced herself to survive. She made a promise to herself that she would be a better mother to her future children than the parenting she received during her younger years.

But as the tragedies and traumas piled up, Stephanie began to lose faith in herself. Slowly her power slipped away from her and cost her the one thing she swore she'd never lose - her daughter. With grit and determination, she fought back at the demons and monsters that were reluctant to release their hold on her until she was able to finally stand on her own. Writing her story to give a voice to the voiceless, Stephanie Henry has shown that one cannot outrun his or her past. How you deal with it shapes your future.

I found this book at NetGalley while looking through the Non-Fiction section. Ever curious about the lives of other people, I submitted my request to read and review the title. I knew from the book's description that the book would cover subject matter some might find triggering. To those of my readers who need to turn away, please do so. The book covers a wide range of topics that the author encountered during her younger years including molestation, rape, abuse, neglect and the consequences of her own bad choices as an adult.

Because this book was a memoir, the main character centered around the author herself. As she recounted the memories of her early years, it was apparent that she grew up in a time that was much different than we know today. It's easy to forget that it wasn't so long ago that things like computers and cellphones weren't common. Children were raised in a different fashion than they are today. Subjects that are no longer as taboo such as mental illness and addiction were not openly discussed during the time in which the author was a young child or a young adult. That doesn't excuse the crimes done to the child, but it helped to explain the environment in which such activity was overlooked or outright ignored. No doubt that this type of environment played a huge part in the downward spiral the author experienced in her later years.

The book wasn't very graphic when it came to the traumas inflicted upon her. That helped to keep the focus on the author's survival and recovery from the circumstances instead of shining a spotlight on the monsters that inhabited her life. It also allowed the book to flow from one period of her life to the next. I found the pace of the book to be fairly steady from the beginning until it began to near the end. There was a bit of repetition in some areas that had me skipping ahead a bit. Overall, the message of the book wasn't simply one thing, but several including survival, hope, redemption and acceptance.

I did enjoy this book because the author was refreshingly honest within its pages. She held nothing back when writing about her own bad choices and the thought-process, or lack thereof, when making those choices. I have to give her a lot of respect for putting everything out on the table, good or bad. Her stance and work as a missionary and voice to those who cannot speak out for themselves is admirable. I wish her all the best in her future work. This book should be on your TBR list if you are a lover of nonfiction or simply like to read stories about real people overcoming real obstacles and making the world their own.

If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry is currently available at mainly online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either hardcover or Kindle formats. Clicking the link below will take you to the book's Amazon page.
If Only I Could Sleep: A Survivor's Memoir by Stephanie Henry

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