Personal tragedy informs a valuable and meticulous guide to dealing with childhood sexual trauma.



A childhood sexual assault survivor shares her recovery experiences and extensive personal research into the topic in this manual.

When Somes was about 4 years old, her lone confidant was her imaginary friend Carey Jones, a nonphysical presence that always offered her understanding rather than judgment. Many years later, while in therapy with Alpern, or Jerry as she calls him, she revealed a frightening truth—just before turning 5, she was pursued and violently sodomized by a neighborhood boy on numerous occasions. Somes confronted the way this impacted her life, delved into why she never told anyone about this abuse, and started to understand why she created Carey to help her. She also began extensive research into the subject of childhood sexual abuse. The result is this succinct yet thorough compendium—written with Alpern—that supports and informs not just sexual abuse survivors, but also their caregivers, parents, and educators, backed up with stigma-busting statistics. Concepts like triggers and self-care, oft ridiculed even as they become more broadly known, are explained along with their roles in developing effective coping techniques, avoiding harmful ones, and finding the resulting trauma behind anxiety and depression, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, and addiction. Ways to spot abuse, handle revelations about it, and even discourage it by recognizing grooming behavior are also detailed, with an emphasis on frank communication between children and their parents or other sympathetic authority figures. The book approaches the topic of childhood sexual abuse in a straightforward, intellectual way, avoiding alarmist tropes or exploitative accounts. Much of the information here is presented as learned through Somes’ therapy, but facts and figures are still well cited. Her own experiences are intercut with other resources, from books like Marilyn Van Derbur’s Miss America by Day and Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score to guides from organizations such as Darkness to Light and the WINGS Foundation. The instruction presented here is practical, with the subjects including what a survivor should look for in a therapist and what questions to ask. The book also addresses the possible, often discouraging bumps in the road that may be encountered along the way. Somes’ personal experiences keep this advice from becoming too clinical. Numerous lists, with extensive appendices featuring further reading and useful outreach tools, make the manual easy to revisit.

Personal tragedy informs a valuable and meticulous guide to dealing with childhood sexual trauma.

Pub Date: May 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4808-8752-7

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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