A debut memoir chronicles one woman’s tumultuous coming-of-age in California.
Harte begins her story with a traumatic event in 1995. The author awoke with trouble speaking. She was soon rushed to the hospital with difficulty breathing. Before it was all over, she suffered cardiac arrest and experienced a vision of hell with its terrible sounds of “people screaming from unimaginable torture.” Readers are then taken back to Harte’s early days. She grew up in Florida in the 1960s. Her parents separated while she was still young, though she got along well with her stepfather. She also spent summers with her grandparents on Long Island. Later, she dropped out of college after a few months and went to live with her wealthy, eccentric father in California. There, she experimented with drugs, become pregnant at the age of 19, and married her first husband while he was still in jail. Her adult life would involve plenty of time at the beach, rocky relationships, and even a foray into acting. Through the ups and downs, she eventually found herself drawn to Christianity and the idea of serving others. She would go on to volunteer with a charity group in Africa and be deeply touched by her experiences there. The story of Harte’s life moves in a swift, casual manner. “Let me explain,” the author asserts before revealing how she discovered she was married to an alcoholic. And while the informal tone is inviting, certain portions are more captivating than others. Harte’s struggles to get rid of a shoddy home in Malibu are not quite as memorable as, say, her recollections of life with a father who chose to wear a different color jumpsuit every day. But most notable are the many important lessons she learned. Does the author regret her decision to drop out of college, move to California, and become a mother at such a young age? As she points out, “Maybe no matter where life takes you, the experiences are the same; just the players are different.” In the end, her bumpy path has made her the adult she is today. Her final advice is simple yet earnest: “There is hope for everyone.”
Despite occasional snags, this spiritual account delivers a brisk, sincere look at a volatile life.