Originally posted Feb. 12, 2008.
Reviewed for Front Street Reviews
Linda Wisniewski tells her own story in a very personal way. She suffers from scoliosis which was never treated and finds that her entire life has been as “off kilter” as her spine. A verbally abusive father and an intimidated, detached mother combine to make her household a place of fear and anxiety rather than a place of refuge. Linda grew up as a Polish-American Catholic during the war and post-war years in a community primarily of the same ethnicity and religion. Growing up in the 1950s was a nation-wide period of turmoil. WWII had ended, the Cold War was beginning, female rebellion was just beginning to bud, and being a pre-teen and teenager in those years could be excruciating for an angst-ridden, discomfited child lacking in confidence.
Many readers will find there is a lot in the book that is familiar to their own memories and may relate to several times in her life. Linda tells her story mostly through flashback memories and then often puts a positive tone on the memory looking at it from her present. I was actually surprised that scoliosis, which can be very painful, is not a major part of the book but more of a side-issue. She has written her feelings almost cathartically but it is definitely not a long drawn out complaint. Certainly there are bouts of anger, depression, and mostly lack of self-worth, but we are taken through a journey of her discovery of self over the decades. And it does take decades to be renewed and to become the person she probably always was were it not for the demeaning childhood that shaped her into someone she was never meant to be. Even throughout the history, there are flickers of the person she was meant to be.
Personally, I learned a lot from this book and intend to make use of what I have learned. Her journeys through memories of good times bring her to some form of understanding of her past, but it is what she does with these memories to overcome her ingrained way of life is a wonderful story of how we can change our own destinies. There is a feeling of peace at the end of the book and it is a fitting ending. Despite the subject matter, the book is a surprisingly easy read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for peace, self-worth and contentment in their lives. In fact, I’m sure most readers will derive something positive from the book.