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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

From a Place Called Shame (Author: Carolyn Parker)

From a Place Called Shame - Carolyn Parker

Suspenseful, Thought Provoking, Powerful

Genre: Memoir

From A Place Called Shame By Carolyn Parker

I spotted this title in an e-mail from Voracious Readers. I requested it and received an e-mailed copy from the Author.

I was attracted to the title & cover initially, and foremost, prior to gaining the knowledge that it was a memoir, it suggested to me, to be the story of someone's personal journey through life encountering struggles and challenges and maybe some sort of life altering tragedy.

As a person who has had a life full of ups and downs, I am drawn to this type of narrative. It is clear that the Author has had to deal with many difficult decisions throughout her life to date, but none more so than facing up to the situation she found herself in at the age of nineteen, and not only coming to the realisation that she was not in an appropriate place to deal with the circumstances that she found herself in, but then the horrifying awareness that the predicament may, have been brought about by something that she had put to the back of her mind, hoping she would never have cause to reflect on it again. One of those monumental life changers that no matter what you choose to do, it changes your life, the way you see yourself, it changes you, forever.

Other than the premature death of my Mother, I have never experienced such an event where I had to make such an important call. Yes, my Mother passing was life altering, but I had no control over it. However I know people who have had to face such a dilemma. My parents, I should imagine had to make some big decisions for me as a child, some life altering & life enabling. A friend of mine was also in the position that Carolyn found herself in at around the same age. I know that she has reflected on it many times since. Although I was unable to relate to a number of the Author's life events, there was one that stood out that I have some knowledge of, albeit second hand.

My parents were given similar news after my birth as Carolyn, after the birth of her second child. I also have an issue with separation anxiety. This may be to do with events from earlier in life, but wasn't helped by having to live apart from my long term partner for 13 years. I also know exactly what she means, and I think most of us will be able to empathise with the need we all have to live up to standards, either set by ourselves or others, & the hard time we give ourselves if those standards aren't met. The pressure from that can be an overwhelming additional burden none of us need.

The main subject that struck me though, was how hard it really must have been to experience those challenges without the technological advances that we have nowadays. The Author does note this several times, but it hadn't been something that I had really considered within that context. Technology as we know it to be now, hasn't always been around during my lifetime, but I struggle to remember when it wasn't, and the part of my life when Google, the Internet and mobile phones weren't a thing were in my childhood years where I didn't have any big issues to deal with that a Google search or being able to text a friend would have aided.

As an adult facing the dilemmas Carolyn encountered and living away from friends & family or not being able to be with her partner and gain that immediate contact that we can now, must have felt very lonely. Her determination to get through her college years despite the turmoil she was facing was extremely admirable. The extent to which her parents ran her life and especially taking over planning her wedding day, made me feel sad for her, as that can never be re-played.....not the original anyway.

There were parts of her story that brought a smile to my face, like having to drive her driving instructor to get her tranquillisers! Despite Carolyn's misgivings, I am sure that it had nothing to do with her driving abilities! The other part to bring a wry smile, was her training to be a physio. I have met a lot of physios in my time, all with varying degrees of success & consequence.

The most positive thing (as I hope the Author will see it) that I can say about this book, is that I was disappointed that it was so short. I would have liked to have learned more about her current life & that of her daughters, her continuing relationship with J, although a little of the latter is given away within the acknowledgements. Maybe there will be another installment. I hope so. Thank you to Carolyn for making the brave decision to share her story. It was an account filled with such defining moments that for me, created such suspense, that I had to stop myself from reading ahead constantly to discover the outcome. On the whole, I found it very thought provoking & in parts very powerful.

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