A woman tells of getting God’s help in weathering abuse, callous parents, familial abandonment, bouts of grinding poverty, medical crises, bad marriages, and bad men in this heartfelt debut autobiography.
The author was born in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1944 to a 15-year-old unwed mother. She writes that she was sexually abused by an alcoholic stepfather at age 7, then emotionally abused by another stepfather until age 18. That year, she came home from school one day to find that her family had abruptly moved away, leaving her homeless. Reeling from that cruelty, she was soon swept off her feet by a 33-year-old truck driver who promised a home and security. The result was a loveless 16-year marriage that yielded four children, during which she says that she was beset by her husband’s alcoholism, womanizing, and drunk driving, as well as her own difficult pregnancies (including one delivery on a kitchen floor). The relationship ended in a bitter divorce. Coping with these travails drew Veltman to the church, and she writes of God answering her prayers in mysterious and traumatic ways. For example, after a 1981 car crash left her with permanent, painful spinal injuries, she then married a man who seemed a truly devoted and loving husband and father—only to experience an appalling betrayal. Heading toward her 50s, Veltman endured more bouts of destitution and homelessness, and even contemplated suicide. But she persevered, thanks to her church community, readings of Scripture, and well-timed interventions by kindly Christians, which she says were divinely inspired. There’s a lot of melodrama in this narrative of hard living and heartache, but the well-paced, engaging prose of amanuensis keeps it from growing too tearful. The themes that Veltman explores are universal and absorbing: the vulnerability of women with few options having their lives taken over by men; the never-healing psychic wounds inflicted by family strife and broken vows; and the havoc wreaked by alcohol and drugs (she vividly renders the drinking culture that surrounded her working-class family). Her description of her gradual turn toward God seems deeply felt—for example, she withdrew a malpractice lawsuit that offered financial security because of moral misgivings—and well-earned.
A compelling memoir of pain, loss, and redemption through faith.