Maher finds faith and inner strength in her battle against mental and physical illness in this inspirational memoir.
The author’s father died when she was 3 years old, and she was raised by her bipolar mother. Later, she spent time in foster care, during which she says she was physically and sexually abused; she also started cutting herself at a young age. After she was kicked out of her house on her 18th birthday, she joined the Air Force, but had to be hospitalized after a suicide attempt. She was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, and soon afterward, she writes, she was shot by a police officer, charged with attempted murder, and jailed for six months—all before she was 22. A later suicide attempt landed her in an intensive care unit, paralyzed due to lesions on her spinal cord. After weeks of assessment, she was given an American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale score: “an A, only on this test A meant total paralysis,” she writes. Without helpful family members, a place to live, or sufficient medical treatment, Maher fought to maintain as much mobility and independence as possible. She writes that she was aided in her struggle by a newfound faith in God and her tenacity to survive in a world (and body) that seemed to want her dead. Maher’s prose is simple and direct, though sometimes flecked with typos and awkward syntax. She also sometimes leaves out pieces of information, which confuses the timeline and obscures the causes of some events. Even so, her story is so engaging, and her attitude so absent of self-pity, that readers will quickly forgive the prose’s lack of polish. Maher’s faith in God is strong, but her discussions of it don’t occupy much space in the text. Overall, the book is less a call to religion than it is an ode to determination and the transformative power that it can have on a person’s life.
An often compelling story of tribulation and recovery.