3 out of 4 stars
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Overcoming My Life's Battles by Adie O. is the bittersweet narrative of the author's journey as a biracial French woman raised in a dysfunctional family. The author shares how the prejudice and verbal, emotional, and physical abuse she experienced as a child shaped her life as an adult and as a mother. She chronicles how she overcame adversity to find peace, love, and fulfilling relationships with her husband and sons.
Although the brief memoir is 113 pages, it is not a light read. The author forewarns that "...the book may make you sad in portions," and I agree. It is heartbreaking to read how early in life she experienced rejection from her mother and her longing to find acceptance. Her feelings of guilt and remorse as a mother who aches to give her sons a better life are equally devastating. However, the author manages to convey joy in both small and big victories. Despite her hard life, she was open to learning new skills, languages, and vocations, including reflexology and massage therapy. Likewise, she was willing to open her heart after multiple disappointing relationships and eventually found love.
I particularly admire the author's resilience in the face of many soul-crushing obstacles. Her desire for acceptance and a family of her own did not simply fall into place; she faced an uphill battle. However, the author did not allow her hardships to define her. She consistently sought solutions, and even amid seasons of temporary living arrangements, she persevered. I also appreciate the italicized personal notes she included, such as appealing to parents about the power of their words and offering encouraging suggestions for readers who are seeking purpose in their lives.
On the other hand, one section didn't ring true with the rest of the book. The author recounted her need to flee from Africa during an ethnic civil war. Although it was snowing when she returned to Paris, she was wearing only summer clothes and open-toed shoes. The author compared the airport to a reception office, as she described resources available from social services, giving citizens an insertion revenue allowance and directing them to shelters. The Red Cross was giving away clothes and shoes, but the author could not locate boots in her size. A young woman from the charitable organization--who happened to be wearing cute boots--suggested that she wear men's boots as an alternative. I may be biased due to my aversion to cold, damp feet in any weather, but considering the dire circumstances, I find the author's indignant response to be somewhat entitled: "I would rather walk in the snow with open shoes than wear men's shoes."
The author shared many specifics about the abuse she suffered, but she was less forthcoming about some of her choices. Although her detailed account of her father's threats to have her arrested was followed by a reference to a ten-day jail stay, she acknowledged that the arrest had "...nothing to do with my father. Rather it was a mistake from another source." No other explanation was given, which felt inconsistent and disjointed in comparison to the rest of the narrative. Additionally, there were multiple instances of missing words and typos that caused me to question whether the book was professionally edited.
Overall, the book would benefit from some additional polishing. For all of the above reasons, I rate Overcoming My Life's Battles 3 out of 4 stars. It contains one instance of quoted profanity. I recommend the book to readers who appreciate memoirs about racial prejudice and overcoming adversity. However, sensitive readers should be cautioned regarding the references to child abuse and domestic violence.
Overcoming my life's battles
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