|Book review: Nobody’s Girl, by Barbara Amaya (Amazon / Book Depository)
I got caught up and read the whole thing in an afternoon. By the end I was incredibly moved and near tears. I’ve read a lot of awful things, like everyone, considering all the bad news the world has to offer. But there’s something about her frankness and straightforward tackling of uncomfortable, downright awful topics coupled with her childhood vulnerability and naivety, even as she writes about the past from a much more secure future. It’s utterly heartbreaking. But not hopeless – Amaya is incredibly strong and self-aware despite decades of abuse in her family and at the hands of strangers, and of course the flood of side effects accompanying these misfortunes.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that she’s an advocate for others who were voiceless as she once was, and by sharing her painful experiences she’s spreading awareness and giving an all too clear picture of what goes on. You read with a lump in your throat at times and that dread sensation of something worse to come as the story rounds another bend. And yet it’s so deeply important to know these things, because it’s true and it happened and it’s happening to someone else who feels like there’s no way out, or stays for the wrong reasons, or thinks they’ll never be whole again after what’s happened to them. Here’s the living proof that we’re all more than what we do or what’s been done to us. I can’t think of a more important message, especially for young women suffering with self-esteem or familial/childhood issues that lead them into the hands of predators like the ones here.
In her author’s statement, Amaya admits that writing the book was difficult, and she struggled at first with only a sixth grade education. She’s selling herself short, since she also made it through her GED and a college degree, but seriously. Bravo, lady. What I found interesting about her writing style was that it matured as the narrative progressed: describing her childhood and family abuse, the language and tone are simplistic and childlike; as she grows up her writing about those periods naturally evolves along with her, until by the memoir’s end her voice is polished, reflective and mature. She analyzes these events and why she made her choices with such clarity. Despite the gut wrenching story there’s something peaceful in reading about her eventual personal triumphs.
Thank you to the author for putting all this into words and making something meaningful out of something terrible, and dedicating herself to helping others caught in the same hideous situations. A crucially important story and an impressive woman.
I received a reviewer’s copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.