A Louisiana woman’s poignant story of a life of abuse and her eventual escape.
Oden’s wrenching debut memoir doubles as a self-help guide to inspire abused women to take control of their lives. She begins by outlining her early life in Collinston, La.; her overbearing father forced her to work the fields at the age of 6 and bullied her constantly. Only a month after her mother died, her father wed a woman who proceeded to abuse Oden physically and mentally—beating, berating and refusing to feed her. Her stepmother insisted that Oden wash all the family’s clothes by hand, which made Oden’s hands tender and sore. The author writes that her early years led her to later traps of abuse, observing that “suffering at her hands led me to believe that life had nothing to offer but misery.” Upon graduating from high school in 1968, Oden escaped to live with her aunt in Chicago, but she recognized that the scars of abuse would remain in her heart no matter where she went. She worked with her aunt in her hat shop, where they spent most of each day. Oden soon found herself flitting in and out of relationships with unsuitable men. Her tale reaches its nadir when she meets Jay, a man who at first seems perfect—until he reveals his true self as a violent alcoholic and substance abuser. The author’s straightforward, unadorned prose cuts right to the issues, and her brutal honesty, both with herself and her readers, is compelling and effective. Readers who have been abused will especially relate and find comfort in Oden’s story and her intense desire to share it. The author emerges the heroine of her own life, as she takes control and allows herself to feel happiness that no one else let her feel.
A heartbreaking story about finding hope in the darkness of abuse.