4 out of 4 stars
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Many times when I read someone's memoir, I wonder how they survived the things they have gone through. I wonder how they have survived at all. In her book Up From Suicide and Other Short Stories, Irene Pierce Dunn shares her life through a series of short stories that reveal her deepest, darkest secrets.
Irene, better known as 'Renie' to people who knew her, was in foster care by the time she was four. Irene grew up in foster homes because of her dysfunctional alcoholic parents. She shares the story of her foster homes, the sexual abuse she endured, being made to do most of the chores, and being afraid to say anything because they might send her back to the orphanage where she had stayed until the age of ten. In "Daddy's Not Home," she tells about the first time she got raped, and in "Pretend You Are Asleep," Irene reveals how a foster dad molested her. Irene went back and lived with her birth mother for a while, only to be molested by her mother's boyfriends. Ostracized by schoolmates, made fun of by neighborhood children, and angry at life, Irene ran away and became the victim of child trafficking at fourteen. After two failed marriages, several attempted suicides, three psychotic episode hospitalizations, and diagnoses of manic depressive disorder and schizophrenia, Irene found herself alone with a small child and a mental illness, wondering how she would make it on her own. Irene believed in God but wasn't living for Him. She was into tarot cards, horoscopes, and smoking marijuana. Does Irene ever find peace? As a single mom with a mental illness, was she able to cope with raising her son? Does Irene ever resolve her relationship with God? You will need to read the book to find out.
Irene has written twenty short stories and compiled them into this book. The book reads like a chapter book, but the 'chapters' comprise different stories from Irene's life. And what a tumultuous life it has been. With such titles to the stories as "My Mother My Muddle," "When The Mind Calls For Time Out," and my favorite, "And God Laughed," one can only imagine what Irene went through. She knows firsthand the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I am impressed with Irene's determination and stamina in overcoming all she has endured. Irene advocated for her neighbors by organizing a group to stop the rent from being doubled in her apartment building. As someone who worked in New York City, she recounts the impact 9/11 had on her, and Irene describes how she is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
My favorite part of this book was Irene's transparency about her life. She wanted to let others know you can overcome any obstacle in life if you trust God. Most people who went through what she did for most of their life would not come out on top, but Irene did. She never felt she was worthy of God's love. She gives several examples in the book of how God intervened in her life even when she was in a backslidden condition. In the story "And God Laughed," the reader will find the answer to how Irene finally realized how much God loves her.
There wasn't anything I did not like about this book. It is well written, and I only found a few errors. I believe the book had professional editing. "Gratitude" and "Abba Father," the last two stories, humbled me. I am pleased to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars for those reasons just mentioned and more. I strongly recommend this book to those searching for answers to the trials they face. Although this book speaks a lot about God and salvation, it is suitable for all ages, regardless of their faith. Everyone will take something positive away from this book.
Up From Suicide And Other Short Stories
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