3 out of 4 stars
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Jubilee is an autobiography written by Roxann Dehlin. In the book, Roxann describes how she came down with a respiratory infection that caused high temperature and led to her suffering a stroke when she was just 8 months old. Unfortunately, she also developed terrible seizures but was misdiagnosed by her doctors. The frequent seizures continued for years. Roxann now feels that her mother was to blame for her getting sick when she was a baby. According to Roxann, her mother’s narcissism and neglect also caused her to not get timely treatment. Growing up, Roxann’s seizures were dismissed as behavioral problems by her parents. No one believed that she had a serious disability. The author recounts the horrific treatment that she received from the very people whose job it was to protect her and to offer her unconditional love and support. Riding her beloved horse, Jubilee, was the only thing that made Roxann feel better and helped her brain heal a little. It also gave her a chance to get away from her mother’s constant criticism and mistreatment. Years later, the author no longer had any seizures and also received her master’s degree in education. Discover what event made Roxann become completely free of the seizures and how she was finally able to move on from the horrific abuse and astonishing neglect that she went through as a child.
I admired the courage, bravery, and honesty that it took for the author to tell her unique story. She openly discussed things that were very personal and hurtful. She talked about her disability, the heinous way that people treated her, and always feeling different. Her mother always made her feel that everything was her fault and that something was wrong with her. She recounted how her mom would always tell her to be more like her older brother. The author also talked about her brother always isolating her from other children. Roxann was very honest and authentic in revealing everything about her disability. The seizures also gave her a slight speech impediment, which made her difficult to understand sometimes. She talked about the many secrets her mother was hiding and described a whole childhood full of abuse and neglect. This kind of transparency was appreciated and pulled you into her story. It was also extremely inspiring to see Roxann overcome the abuse, her disability, and all of the obstacles in front of her.
It was fascinating and educational to find out how the unique movements of a horse could help people with seizures and the rewiring of their brains. It was moving reading about how this horse saved the author from a life of trauma by giving her an escape, which led her on a path to a better life.
Unfortunately, I did find a few issues with the book. It was repetitive in parts, especially when the author’s mother was being discussed. At first, it was good to see Roxann not holding back about the part that her mom played in her illness, but it eventually became extremely monotonous. I read about how the mother was “narcissistic,” “manipulative,” and a “liar” way too many times. I felt like the book’s organization could have been a bit better and that could have helped with the repetitiveness. I also couldn’t understand why the author’s father was so easily forgiven. He seemed to share the blame for everything wrong in her childhood and also viciously beat her on numerous occasions. However, it was said that he was “manipulated” by the mother. There was literally no excuse for what was done to Roxann by her mom, but it confounded me that her dad was let completely off the hook. I’m sure that the author had her reasons, but they weren’t properly explained.
I’m rating this book 3 out of 4 stars. The author’s courage and honesty really stood out. The way that she described her disability, seizures, abuse, and neglect was horrifying and heartbreaking. The fact that Roxann persevered through everything was uplifting. It was very educational to learn about how Jubilee helped heal her brain. Another plus was the professional editing, as I only found a couple of small errors. I’m subtracting a star because the book was repetitive and monotonous in places and could have been a bit better organized. The ease with which the author forgave her father and blamed absolutely everything on her mother was also confusing to me. I would recommend this book to people who like autobiographies and nonfiction books that contain touching and personal stories.
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