4 out of 4 stars
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“Real change must come from first recognizing that there is, in fact, a problem; then, through planning and hard work, through fortitude and tenacity, through resilience and sheer will, change happens. It comes from pushing through the hard lessons and constantly reaching for a better life.” Ava McCarthy
Bloom Where Planted by Winifred Grace and Ava McCarthy is a true story of change. It is the story of an abused child who is lost in the system of foster care and the judicial system. She spends her first eighteen years fighting the world and destroying herself. Then she slowly decides to put the pieces back together and create a better life. It is story of tragedy and of hope.
The story is told by Winifred Grace, the mother of Ava’s girlfriend. She admits that she judged Ava negatively when she first met her. She did not want her daughter dating a tattooed pole-dancer. It is a testament to the power of Ava’s story that it changed Winifred as well. They hope to help others start seeing people from the inside instead of judging by externals. Ava also hopes her story will help other victims of abuse to have hope and know that they are not alone.
Ava came from generations of abuse. It was a dark thread throughout her family. Her mom was a lost soul who didn’t know how to protect or parent her children. She lost custody of Ava several times. Physical and sexual abuse, along with drug use, play prominent roles in Ava’s childhood and teen years. All of these things left lasting psychological scars on the young girl. Ava learned to lie, steal, and fight to survive. She even pretended to commit suicide and staged the event to get attention from her mom. Ava spent years in foster care, psychiatric facilities, and group homes. Her anger and violence eventually landed her in a lock-up facility. When released, Ava turned to striptease dancing to earn a living. Ava’s life changes were not instantaneous. She spent years in counseling learning to face her own brokenness and finding a path to peace. Eventually she was able to find a new career, get custody of her own daughter, and build a stable relationship with someone she loves. She broke the cycle, and built a new life.
I was deeply touched by this story. Ava makes no attempt to cover up anything including her own faults and mistakes. It is a raw look at a tragic life. There are times with the story seemed a little factual and lacking emotions, but this can be attributed to the need to remove herself from the memories. Unlike so many victims of abuse, Ava sees the balance between things that happened to her and the choices she made that made things worse. I am impressed with her brutal honesty which is such a key component to true healing.
Ava has a strong belief in God, and this is a key piece of her story, but it is not preachy or overbearing at all. She was also blessed with a few people in her life that treated her with compassion and respect. Reading about these people who saw past all her pain and anger to the person inside was inspiring. I also enjoyed the portions of the book that Ava wrote herself. There was a poem about tattoos that explains how the needles were a release from her own hidden pain.
The only part of the book I did not enjoy was a lengthy section detailing a series of failed relationships. I think the authors wanted to include all possible relevant details, but I would have preferred a shortened list of only the most impactful relationships.
Despite this one small criticism, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is well written with very few editing errors. The story is heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time. Readers need to know that there are strong language and explicit topics such as rape and physical abuse as well as extensive drug use. Anyone triggered by such topics should not read this book. However, anyone looking for a truth-filled, inspiring story that will encourage you to be more accepting of others will not be disappointed.
Bloom Where Planted
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