ON BECOMING A SWAN by Alice G. Miller


Gardens Grace and Psychotherapy
Email this review


After surviving an abusive childhood, a Christian woman goes on to become a counselor and psychotherapist in this highly readable memoir.

Raised in a quiet suburb of Washington, D.C., Miller (A Thyme for Peace, 2011, etc.) writes of how she took the brunt of her father’s abuse, as her mother was unwilling to stand up to him. In these times of turmoil, however, she found sanctuary in her family’s well-tended garden, and with her devoutly Christian maternal grandmother, Bobbie. Her grandmother instilled in her a steadfast faith, and also a belief in the power of listening. Later, as a camp counselor for inner-city children, Miller spent a long career lifting the spirits of lost youth by offering an unbiased ear. As a youth counselor at a local church, she took her group to volunteer with underprivileged children such as Darryl, a sweet boy who waited in vain for his family to visit, and who unknowingly enlightened the group about their own privileges. However, Miller was eventually forced out of her position; she was viewed as a rebel for prioritizing community service over prayer. She and her husband went on to found a coffee shop where teens could discuss tricky issues regarding religion and adolescence in a safe environment. Later, she acted as director of The Listening Post, a hotline and walk-in facility for teens manned by avid student volunteers. After years as an active counselor, Miller enrolled in graduate school to become a professional psychotherapist, building a home fit for a private practice alongside a lavish garden. In this memoir, she weaves in countless anecdotes about the children and teens she encountered throughout her work, as each made indelible marks on her life. Although she tells these stories in a strikingly sincere voice, they sometimes overwhelm the narrative, leaving little space for information about Miller’s own life. Faith is a nearly constant subject, but it’s handled with a deft hand, in a way that’s never alienating. Readers interested in youth counseling, in particular, will be inspired by the author’s heartfelt journey.

A memoir about the power of listening by a passionate psychotherapist.  

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1494227807
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


NonfictionTHOUGHTS WITHOUT A THINKER by Mark Epstein
by Mark Epstein
NonfictionTHE THIEF OF HAPPINESS by Bonnie Friedman
by Bonnie Friedman
NonfictionNEARER TO THE HEART'S DESIRE by George Weinberg
by George Weinberg