Official Review: Exit the Labyrinth by Stephanie Kay Bendel

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ALynnPowers
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Official Review: Exit the Labyrinth by Stephanie Kay Bendel

Post by ALynnPowers » 10 Oct 2015, 11:07

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Exit the Labyrinth" by Stephanie Kay Bendel.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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In Exit the Labyrinth, author Stephanie Kay Bendel sets the standard for how a memoir should be written. Although this is a true story of “Margo Witz” (all names in the book have been changed) and her experiences dealing with lifelong depression, it reads like a novel and is impossible to put down.

The year is 1989. Margo’s father is undergoing open heart surgery, and she travels with her daughter from their home in Colorado back to Margo’s childhood home in Grandfather Falls, Wisconsin, to be with her family during this sensitive time. Being in her hometown brings back a lot of memories, many of them not-so-pleasant, but so much of her childhood is still a blank. Her therapist is convinced that discovering the root of her depression will help her unlock those memories. She has already undergone years of hypnotherapy, but she has still not recovered those key moments which may have triggered her childhood depression.

“It is as if my memory were originally a long string of colored beads, but somehow the string broke, and my beads have been scattered and lost. Now I am beginning to find them, but I’m not sure what order to put them in.”

Unlike most memoirs, Exit the Labyrinth is not told in chronological order. The most recent events of the story take place in 1989, but throughout the book Margo recalls past events from as far back as the 1940s, such as the time she met her father for the first time after he returned home from his post in the Navy after World War 2. There are seemingly random memories that pop up amidst the current events of sitting in the waiting room while her father is in surgery, but by the time the end of the book rolls around, nothing seems so random at all. Everything flows together nicely, and all of the puzzle pieces of Margo’s life begin to fit together as the book progresses. It’s easy to understand Margo and her life, and the picture that forms from these pieces of her puzzle is breathtaking.

Everything about this book screams excellence: the flawless writing, the wonderful portrayal of characters, the unique rhythm of the timeline, the satisfying conclusion (though some might argue it is a bit anticlimactic, as Margo herself acknowledges), and the bond that can easily be formed between Margo and readers. Every memory in the story is relevant to Margo’s development as a person, even though she feels out of sync with the rest of her family. My favorite story revolves around how Margo’s youngest brother got a new tile floor in his bedroom, and any story that involved her father’s sense of logic had me laughing out loud.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, I gladly give Exit the Labyrinth a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. For those who enjoy memoirs, this is a must-read. Those who have battled with depression may also find comfort in this book.

******
Exit the Labyrinth
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Post by Levi » 02 Jan 2016, 23:33

@ALynnPowers this is an amazing review of what sounds like a great book. The quote you added seems perfect in describing the overall flow of the book. Great job.
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Post by ALynnPowers » 03 Jan 2016, 22:57

Escapeartist wrote:@ALynnPowers this is an amazing review of what sounds like a great book. The quote you added seems perfect in describing the overall flow of the book. Great job.
Thank you @escapeartist ! It is a really great book. I actually reviewed this a long time ago but it's just now been published for some reason....

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Post by Levi » 03 Jan 2016, 23:02

I noticed that, some flaw in the system perhaps. Oh well, smashing job. And congrats to the author on a positive review!
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Post by hsimone » 10 Jan 2016, 13:37

Wonderful review, ALynnPowers! I really was able to get the gist of the story without being given too much to leave me hanging! I like when memoirs read like a novel because you're right, when it does, it is hard to put down :)
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Post by Gravy » 11 Jan 2016, 02:48

I have a huge stack of memoirs to read (darn you to-read list! *shakes fist*), but I could see this winding up there. It sounds like something I could really enjoy :)
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Post by ALynnPowers » 11 Jan 2016, 03:29

Easily one of the best memoirs I have ever read. No, I'm pretty sure it might be THE best I've ever read. This is totally recommended!

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Post by Cee-Jay Aurinko » 11 Jan 2016, 08:58

Sounds interesting. Great review A. Lynn Powers!
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Post by bluemel4 » 11 Jan 2016, 09:07

Fantastic review! It was a joy to read and your love of the book really comes through.
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Post by PashaRu » 11 Jan 2016, 11:20

Thanks for such a well-written review, @ALynnPowers . After reading your review, I especially like the title. Very appropriate and almost poetic. I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much, and congratulations to Ms. Bendel on a great review!
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Post by ALynnPowers » 12 Jan 2016, 08:02

Thanks again for the comments. The title is pretty awesome! And I love that quote. I think I highlighted it while I was reading, and I kind of use it as my motivation whenever I am feeling lost and mixed up.

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Post by ValtearTheShadebane » 22 Jan 2016, 14:08

Great review! Makes me want to learn more about Margo and her struggle... it seems like it takes a tragedy or a near-tragic event to force us to come to terms with who we are and how we got here. I would like to read it and find out how Margo gets through it all. Congratulations to Stephanie Kay Bendel!
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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 22 Jan 2016, 19:23

Great review! I have never read a memoir before but this sounds like it would be a good first!
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Post by ALynnPowers » 23 Jan 2016, 02:11

TrishaAnn92 wrote:Great review! I have never read a memoir before but this sounds like it would be a good first!
It doesn't even read like a memoir! It's like any other narrative but totally relate-to-able (is that a word?) because the people and situations are 100% real.

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Post by gali » 24 Sep 2016, 08:44

Not my cup of tea, but sounds like a touching memoir. The format of writing (the way it isn't told in chronological order) is certainly unique. I am glad you enjoyed the book. A great job on the review!
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