A heartfelt and informative guide to recovery with searing literary recollections.

THRIVING AFTER SEXUAL ABUSE

BREAK YOUR BONDAGE TO THE PAST AND LIVE A LIFE YOU LOVE

A woman surveys strategies that she used to recover from the lingering psychological trauma of sexual abuse in this self-help book.

In this book’s opening pages, Bossarte, an arts teacher with a doctorate in developmental neuroscience, writes that she was molested as a child by her grandfather, which left her with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and relationship difficulties. Her book focuses on her healing journey from high school onward and provides practical advice for others struggling with similar issues. She emphasizes the importance of one-on-one therapy and discusses ways to vet prospective therapists, recommending that one should look for a person who specializes in sexual abuse and ask lots of questions about methodologies and fees. She also recounts her positive experiences in group therapy and explores ways to promote well-being outside of counseling, including exercise (she’s partial to yoga), meditation, her hobby of “contemplative photography,” nature walks, scented bubble baths and candles, and creative projects to give voice to one’s expressive instincts. Other chapters address the knotty issues of whether and how to confront an abuser—Bossarte says that she never confronted her grandfather, who died when she was a teenager—or others who might have known of the abuse but didn’t intervene. She also discusses how to come out as a survivor to family members and partners. A final section reprints Bossarte’s poetry about abuse, and an appendix offers readers lists of self-help books, meditation instructors and apps, and survivor support groups.

Bossarte’s practical advice is often well tailored for abuse survivors, as when she notes that certain yoga poses can be triggering, as can some turns of mind while meditating. At times, though, she provides commonplace advice: “You can connect to your creativity through journaling and writing…through art classes for drawing, painting, pottery, or jewelry making, woodworking, sculpting, or blacksmithing!” The author also presents a rudimentary tour of alternative forms of therapy, such as qi gong, acupuncture, and chakra healing. The book has its greatest impact when it focuses on Bossarte’s personal experiences. She doesn’t dwell on details of her abuse, but her depiction of her resulting state of mind is deeply felt and riveting: “I remember hating my body and my lack of control as hormones raged during my teen years. Hating the changes that drew his eyes like flies to a corpse….I dared to dream of using my hands to kill myself, end it all, and set myself free.” Bossarte’s poems are especially hard-hitting and evocative, whether they’re taking readers into her grandfather’s house—“Opening door creaks, / feet shuffle on wooden floors. / A monster creeps into the room, / intent on devouring my innocent heart”—or relating the psychic damage of the abuse: “My childhood: a watercolor painting, / your touch smudged and blurred, / your intentions acid on my canvas.” In these passages, Bossarte conveys a cathartic sense of disaster and loss that makes her story of resurgence feel all the more resonant.

A heartfelt and informative guide to recovery with searing literary recollections.

Pub Date: April 22, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Passion for Life Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A sometimes-humorous but uneven political satire.

BIDEN

YEAR ONE

A satire furnishes a day-by-day chronicle of Joe Biden’s presidency.

McConnell begins his farce by providing a dictionary definition of satire, apparently apprehensive his readership won’t figure out his purpose is absurdist humor. What follows is an ambitious commentary on Biden’s presidency, expressed through the conversations the leader conducts with an unnamed aide. Biden is depicted as a superannuated fool who often doesn’t seem to remember he is in fact the president. He forgets what social media is, repeatedly confuses Russia and Ukraine, has no idea what bills he’s signing, and seems to need a lot of naps. He mistakenly calls the nuclear football a baseball, and suggests he will signal his concern regarding White privilege by abstaining from vanilla ice cream on his pie. The constant refrain that marks Biden’s ceaseless bewilderment is: “When did that happen?” This routine continues for 339 days, an exercise that delivers some amusing and intriguing moments. But there is no comedic fruit too low-hanging for the author, who sometimes traffics in the obvious. Consider this exchange between Biden and his aide: “Aide: ‘Sir, you’re going to impose new sanctions on the Russians.’ Biden: ‘I am? Why would I do that? Have you seen Putin with his shirt off? He’s pretty ripped.’ ” In a prefatory note, McConnell claims to aim not only at humor, but also an articulation of Biden’s “basic governing philosophy.” Yet such a presentation never emerges out of the hijinks. Readers will be impressed by the author’s stamina and comprehensiveness—he manages to cover just about every topic of political note. But that scrupulousness finally becomes a vice, as many readers will begin to wish for something a bit briefer.

A sometimes-humorous but uneven political satire.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 979-8799184377

Page Count: 446

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2022

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A complex and relatable set of works about the depths of loss.

VOICES OF THE GRIEVING HEART

In this new edition of a 1993 poetry collection, Bernhardt and other various poets reflect on grief.

The anthology is a meditation on bereavement, which almost everyone will experience at some point in their lives. The poems chronicle the loss of children, spouses, friends, and parents, and themes of light, ocean depths, prayer, pain, and even screams recur throughout. As John Fox, founder of the Institute for Poetic Medicine, writes in his foreword, “Contained herein are bone thoughts”—an apt description of the poems’ sparse, plain, and raw emotions. Several works effectively address how the loss of a loved one irrevocably becomes a part of those left behind: “Grief becomes your shadow, / leads you slowly,” Ivy Sandz writes in “Instructions for Letting Go,” and the speaker of Annie Brook’s “The Journey” tells a deceased person that “there is a place in me where you live.” Among the additions to this edition is a timely section that specifically addresses Covid-19 deaths. Furthermore, some of the poets who appeared in the original anthology reflect on their relationship to grief almost three decades later in a section titled “Time Passes.” These short, prose reflections help to elucidate the ways in which grieving, and its attendant struggles, intertwine with life’s everyday routines. The last 10 pages of the book are left intentionally blank, “reserved for your voice, for your own poems or writing.” Overall, the book clearly illustrates how one’s relationship with loss is circuitous and multipronged, as Mike Bernhardt’s poem “Buds at the End of Winter” makes clear: “My grief lives on in me, / an old moldy stump / rotting soft in the woods. / Or a tree in late winter, / buds appearing / red and green on bare branches.” It’s an excellent anthology for anyone in the throes of similar emotions.

A complex and relatable set of works about the depths of loss.

Pub Date: April 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9642810-1-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Cypress Point Press

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2021

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