Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The S Word by Paolina Milana




What They Say.....In accordance with her Sicilian Catholic family’s unspoken code, Paolina Milana learned at an early age to keep her secrets locked away where no one could find them. Nobody outside the family needed to know about the voices her Mamma battled in her head; or about how Paolina forged her birth certificate at thirteen so she could get a job at The Donut Shop; or about the police officer twenty-six years her senior whose promise to her Papà to “keep an eye on her” quickly translated into something sinister. And perhaps that’s why no one saw it coming when—on the eve of her sweet sixteen, pushed to edge—Paolina attempted to take her own mother’s life. 

Raw and compelling, The S Word is the true story of a girl who nearly suffocates in the silence she was taught to value above all else—until she finally finds the strength to break free of the secrets binding her and save herself.


What I Say.....I usually am not a huge fan of memoirs.  But this one read so easily that I actually had to turn back to the cover to make sure that it wasn't a novel.

Paolina has learned to keep her family's secrets.  Her mother's mental illness, her father's inability to read or write basic English, and the fact that she has gotten a job as a 13 year old girl.

Watching Paolina navigate an overly interested police office, while juggling school and trying to escape her mother's watchful, crazy gaze, I was struck by her story.  Not at how unique it was, but at how there are probably lot's of Paolina's out there, making this story absolutely un-unique, and yet no less sad.

Although her childhood was not any type of picnic, I do have to say that it probably contributed to her success.  I think many of us were driven to succeed just as a form of escape.  

I was struck by her friend's words (written in her acknowledgment), "When are you going to stop wishing for a better past?".  I think that is something I need to practice in my own life.  Don't look back.

I do wish there had been a little afterward written that caught us up on her brother and sisters, and her father and mother.  I would have liked to know more about how they all turned out.

It was a great read - finished in a day.  I would definitely read this author again.

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