4 out of 4 stars
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In The Inner War: A German WWII Survivor’s Journey from Pain to Peace, Gerda Robinson chronicles the trauma and abuse she endured as a child during the war and the pain she carried into her adult life. She explains how her unresolved emotional trauma resulted in depression, anxiety, and chronic back pain. Robinson shares the healing practices introduced to her at a pain rehabilitation clinic and brings awareness to the effects of childhood trauma. She desires to encourage others who need to find hope and peace after debilitating traumatic experiences.
Robinson has a gift for storytelling; her evocative journey is a compelling read, and the editing is exceptional. She skillfully balances the trauma no child should endure with simple pleasures and intermittent seasons of normalcy. For instance, Robinson shares an early childhood memory of a meaningful Christmas. Her sheer delight of receiving new handmade clothing from her grandmother is especially touching. As Robinson's story continues, anyone who has longed for the acceptance of a family will relate to her ongoing search to find her place. Overall, the book conveys a message of hope despite the horrific experiences of Robinson's childhood.
It is understandable why someone with Robinson's traumatic childhood might doubt a loving God, but I particularly like watching her faith and relationship with God deepen along the way. "I sincerely hope that my story will inspire readers to take God seriously and start the journey with Him sooner than I did. The only excuse I can offer is that my heart and mind were not emotionally healthy enough to let Jesus's love flow through my veins."
I also like the "quick fixes" Robinson provides for readers who may be unable to pursue ongoing therapy. I appreciate her sensitivity as she explains three effective practices that anyone can try. Additionally, I admire Robinson's candor in recounting the stigma surrounding psychiatrists and mental health issues in the early '70s.
Although there isn't anything I dislike about the book, I will caution sensitive readers that the portions involving Robinson's childhood abuse may be difficult to read. However, the content is not graphic. There is also a non-explicit reference to rape and the use of one profane word.
I am pleased to rate this poignant memoir 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy stories about overcoming adversity and to those interested in a psychiatric approach to pain management. Although Robinson discusses her Christian faith, due to the other issues she addresses, the book may also appeal to non-believers.
The Inner War
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