Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden

Book Review: She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro

How do I even start to review this book? Here is my modest 5/5 review left on goodreads after reading it in 48 hours just because there were other important things to do too:

I may not have a story identical to Linda’s to the extent that it wasn’t my mum, but I identify very much with her childhood. Linda’s is a story above all of survival in the midst of extreme trauma and near loss of one’s own sanity. That she survives and even thrives, to get to the point of working to help people in similar situations or even worse, speaks volumes of the resilence imbued in our human nature. Her’s is equally a sad story of painful traditions sometimes corroborated by religion, but it ends with a lot of hope. This book will definitely make a very good read.

This is what is said on the Amazon: On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.

She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.

I share three soul searching quotations before urging You in search of healing from similar trauma, to treat yourself to this – at least for the season.

1) “ I hold on to the belief I consider to be most valuable: the need to honour the parts of ourselves that are healthy, the parts that are strong, even when unpredictable situations – our own physical or emotional stressors or those of our loved ones – catch us off guard.

2) Learning to accept my own dark side while honouring my strenghts, I began to understand the healing power of forgiving and was more determined than ever to … merge life’s sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery. Only then was I able to move beyond trauma – as I believe it is possible for others to do – with grace and dignity.

3) In order to confront my demons and not drown in my sorrows, the challenge for me was to learn to forgive – first my family and then myself. I reached out for professional guidance, to break the…cycle of despair, and that’s what I believe everyone in such circumstance must do eventually.


Thinking most especially of my friend Linda, and wishing Thumbup so much good tidings too.

Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden

Some Reviews of my book

It's all about honesty in here!
It’s all about honesty in here!

Wow, March has been one hectic month for me and I guess for us all right?

l worked so hard to publish my book a few days before it was scheduled and so it’s kind of a month since then.

The result so far has been more of quality over quantity and the reviews have been mostly one of encouragement and appreciation.

No offence meant but I equally got one very disturbing review and although I wouldn’t share it here because it is from someone who wouldn’t like it to be shared, I must admit that I wish that person well!

Here below therefore, are a few of the reviews so far:

” This is a very good story about a young woman finding here way. What a journey this author endured. Marie Abanga path was hard and filled with lessons. She is bound by family traditions and cultural upbringing that she begins to challenge. Marie Abanga’s writing captivated me in the very first chapter. I have to admit in some areas of her story, I didn’t quit understand what she was trying to convey. But I continued to read. Marie Abanga candidly speaks of her affairs and struggles. What a brave soul she is for “washing her dirty linen in public.” Thank you Vee!

“Ayo, I just finished reading your book. I owe you a call. It must have taken quite some courage to write it. I certainly applaud you for that! My dear, my only sadness is that I had no idea about what you were going through. I feel like I could have helped somehow if I did. Either way you are a better person for having risen above all the turmoil. I was on a flight from Detroit to Denver and couldn’t put it down until I was done! You had my attention from the first sentence. What a journey you’ve been on. Your book will definitely open many eyes to the many hidden aspects of our lives. Thanks for your determination.”  Thank you Felicy!

Another review all the way from Canada, “Marie Abanga describes herself as a dynamic woman who follows the three Ds of Determination-Dicipline-Dedication. Her story is one of hurts, adulteries and redemption. It is certainly a full life with never a dull moment. Marie is brutally honest in this autobiography, the writing of which she used as a form of therapy. This is a highly entertaining book written with gusto. I enjoyed it immensely. Best wishes, Dennis Cardiff” Thank you Dennis!

Am truly touched by such feedback: “I think it’s really hard to have relationships with others when the first couple you know is dysfunctional and abusive towards each other. I also feel your pain when you said you didn’t have anyone to confide with when you’re growing up. I didn’t either. Aside from the personal, I also appreciate that you take time to describe to describe Cameroon and your surroundings. Honestly, I’ve read few books that have taken place anywhere in Africa. You get the sense that this is a real African book which is great because rather than it be another novel about the exoticism of Africa, you present a real true story (your story) about struggles experienced universally by people. It makes you feel that no matter where or how different the culture is, we still face obstacles and go through internal challenges that are very similar. I am sure you’ve heard this a lot but thank you for sharing your story. It’s raw and without pretense and I am grateful to read an uninhibited piece like your own story! Fouzia

Thanks again, Marie and we’ll talk soon!

Oh and here is another review from Canada again, my friend Barb Parker: ” Marie I found your book very inspirational.  It is truly amazing what some people have to endure to find real happiness.  You are a true model of Determination and your Desire to keep going even in the hard times, leads me to believe you are a Strong Woman.  I want to thank you for sharing your story, I am sure your testimony will be a Blessing to many who find themselves in a similar situation.  Blessings to you and your family.  May you enjoy Happiness and Love for the duration of you Life on Earth. It is truly amazing how we connected through writing our books.  I am so happy to call you my friend.”

And, what do you say when get such a review about your work? 
“A personal story from a courageous lady that touches the heart of every reader.
The writer recounts her missteps and trials through life as she perpetually chases this illusive concept we all long for- ‘love’.
In the process, she’s tempted, bruised and healed, but ironically rewarded with the greatest LOVES of her life- her off springs.
A lesson learned, but not without passing through the good, the bad and the ugly in men.
Her experiences challenge hitherto women-centered African societal stereotypes, and derail the course of her moral judgement.
In the twist of events, a great awakening occurs, just as the writer takes us through yet another thriller of one of those her ‘unconventional loves’- which leads to ‘her road to Damascus’!
A suspense-packed non-fiction. An intriguing part of her personal memoirs!
A ‘must-read’ for anyone who has the wisdom to learn from others’ experiences!” Lesly

What a story!,  April 25, 2014
By Mr Egg

Marie takes us on her trip in Africa from childhood to adulthood, and how she back-pedaled as hard as she could from her dead-end road of a marriage. I discovered the weight of tradition, and how much it pressures women in Africa. Through her story, I travelled to Cameroon, Tanzania, Dubai and Europe. I discovered a very strong woman, dedicated and determined… beware if you try to stand on her way. This is an excellent read!

And this one all the way from Long Beach CA:

Touching and True, August 1, 2014
” When I first started taking writing workshops my instructors told me to “write like you talk.” That is exactly the way Marie Abanga writes. As soon as I began reading her book, I felt like I was in the same room with the author as she told me in her raw and honest voice the story of her struggle to have a meaningful and happy life despite the adversities along the way, such as growing up in Cameroon, constant fights with her mother, a failed marriage, falling for a younger street guy, and leaving her three sons to be raised by family members so she could pursue her education and career in law.

Abanga doesn’t mince words while she pours out her heart. She also is sometimes reticent to give us all the details. She says, “The details are so nostalgic I may not be able to finish this chapter so I leave this part at that.” Or, “I can’t describe out of décor and decorum….”

Abanga describes her memoir as a story of “Determination, Discipline and Dedication.” I was hooked from the start. You will be too.
I don’t give this book five stars because of its excellent writing, but because of the touching and true voice of the author. ” Thanks Madeleine

I am simply put, very very touched by all these reviews. And to think of my difficult memoir journey and how I all but wrote in hiding?

And this is what my own mother wrote on my book launch event page:

“Ayo, I was unable to be there yesterday having been held down in an engagement here in Lome struggling to jump-start our capacity-building assignment. I appreciate the courage that has moved you to document some of these moments in your life, some mistakes and your struggles. I am familiar to some but definitely not all. You chose your forum and you are free to. The most important aspect is what I as a Catholic mother see as reconciliation with yourself and the peace that comes with it and above all how you use your mistakes so as not only to avoid another fall but rather to jump higher and land far. My believe is “never waste a mistake or a fall”. Every mistake or challenge in life is an opportunity and I am glad that you have not only decided to use yours for yourself but also to share and lend your experiences to others. This said, accept my blessings and my prayers. IT IS WELL!!!!! ” Thank you Mama

So, gentle followers of mine, if you haven’t yet got a copy, may these reviews help you take the decision to or maybe not to? Haha, I will appreciate your reviews too!