5 STAR Review – Left Behind

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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author remembers her childhood as a time of excitement and privilege. Her parents grew up next door to each other. After the birth of his only child, her father built on the vacant lot between the two sets of grandparents. It was the uniting of two clans, just like a fairy tale. Even better, she was a Daddy’s girl whose father indulged her with lavish gifts and made it plain that she (not her mother) was the important female in her life. She didn’t think it strange that she and her mother weren’t allowed to cut their hair or that her father controlled every penny, even his wife’s paycheck. That was just the way it was.

Then her father quit his job and became even more controlling. Unfortunately, his little girl had turned into a teenager with a mind of her own. One act of defiance was all it took. His daughter was now “dead” to him. In the ultimate act of revenge, he committed suicide. His only child was sixteen years old and spent the next twenty years hating herself for “killing” her father.

I read the first version of this book in June and I think this new edition is improved. The story is still somewhat rambling, but she has included some new insights into both her actions and those of her parents. She has pieced together the history of her parents and their families bit by bit over a period of decades, as to some extent we all do. On her case the information came from relatives reluctant to remember or talk about old shames and scandals. As she has matured, she’s realized that both sides of her family were dysfunctional. Her father’s family has a history of addiction and mental illness, and suicide is a recurring theme. Her mother (raised by a generous, but domineering father and a passive mother) was unable to stand up for herself and demand respect from her husband.

The book is a compelling read because Ms. Bednar is unflinchingly honest in talking about her childhood, marriage, and raising her own children. Dealing with a combination of PTSS from her father’s suicide and her own chemical imbalances (now treated with medication) hasn’t been easy and I think most readers will finish the book admiring her strength and determination. She’s a drama queen, but that volatility is her genetic heritage and she must live with it. She mentions that, had it not been for her father’s suicide, she probably would have married a local boy, settled near her parents and grandparents, and had a far different life than she has lived. It’s also possible that mental illness would have overwhelmed her, as it did her father and several of his family. She’s not only a survivor, she has learned to face her problems and deal with them.

This book is a valuable first-person account of the on-going trauma caused by suicide. For many centuries, most Christian churches condemned those who committed suicide, even refusing to bury them in church cemeteries. Today, we take a more “enlightened” view, but one thing remains the same. Those left behind are never the same again.

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About Vanessa Bednar

I am an actor, a writer, a mom, an adventurer.

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