Also by this author: Etched in Sand
Published by William Morrow/HarperCollins on October 18, 2016
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Memoir, Non-Fiction
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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours.
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A couple of years ago, I read a powerfully moving book titled Etched in Sand. It’s the story of Regina Calcaterra and the abuses she and her four siblings endured at the hands of their mother and the utter failures of the foster care system. It’s a heartbreaking story that is hard to read but also showcases the power of perseverance. In her book, Calcaterra carefully protects her siblings by holding back on some of their experiences, partly because she was not always present, but mostly because it wasn’t her story to tell.
Now, three years later, Regina’s youngest sister, Rosie Maloney, is ready to share what she endured during the years that she was separated, along with her brother, from her siblings. LikeEtched in Sand, Girl Unbroken a difficult story to read, but it is such an important one. The story begins with Rosie, age 8, being taken away from her sisters and sent to foster care with her brother. This was to be a better life, for she spent her early years scrounging for food while their mother went on binges for weeks and months at a time with whomever her boyfriend was at the time. But foster care systems are often riddled with failures and, like many children, Rosie and her brother fell through the cracks. Rather than land in a safe place, they found themselves the victims of new types of abuses.
Upon hearing about the abuses, Rosie’s mother, Cookie, kidnaps her two youngest children and flees to Idaho. Over the next decade, Rosie and Norm endure physical, verbal, and emotional abuse while moving from one place to the next. Their mother, an alcoholic with a predictable mean streak and unpredictable ways of inflicting it, fluttered from one man to the next, but while their scenery changed, the abuse remained steady. Not unsurprisingly, many of these men were not good people, with some turning a blind eye to the abuse and others taking advantage of the situation and inflicting their own on them, particularly Rosie. The actions and their aftermath are devastating and I am in awe of Rosie for not only telling her story, but for surviving it in the first place. Girl Unbroken is aptly named, for most people would break under a fraction of the abuses that Rosie survived.In the sequel to #EtchedinSand by @rcalcaterra, @rosie2maloney shares overcoming abuse & becoming a #GirlUnbroken Click To Tweet
But shining through the darkness were pockets of light – the librarians who gave her safe shelter, the friends whose kindness saved her, her horses, and the salvation found in a high school teacher. There were men in her mother’s life who tried to care for the children, only to find themselves at the receiving end of Cookie’s rampages for diverting their attention from her. But it was Rosie’s fervent belief that she would one day be happy with her sisters again that kept her putting one foot in front of the other. Despite the beatings and battered self-esteem, the knowledge that she was loved and would one day be safe with her sisters allowed her to persevere against the odds.
Girl Unbroken is an incredible story of survival. Rosie, who was given every excuse to fail, chose to succeed. It wasn’t easy and she still, to this day, struggles with the longterm effects of her upbringing, but her determination to make a better life for herself and her family is palpable. Despite the horrors described within these pages, and they are plentiful, it is clear that Rosie was a fierce child who ultimately found peace as a fierce adult.
Recommended for: Readers of inspiring memoirs about overcoming the odds.
What are some difficult memoirs you’ve read?
Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Regina Calcaterra, and Rosie Maloney for providing a copy of this book. You can read more reviews of Girl Unbroken here. You can also learn more about the book at HarperCollins.