Help Me! by Donna M. Zadunajsky Book Review

HELP ME! (HELP ME! #1)HELP ME! by Donna M. Zadunajsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Help Me! by Donna M. Zadunajsky was a very interesting read. I liked it because it read like a personal journal from the the first point of view of the main characters. I’m a huge fan of journaling, so the writing style felt voyeuristic. It was avant-garde in a sense that the writing style is not what I am used to reading in a book.

It’s like reading a book on social media. As the reader, you’re taken into the private thoughts and experiences of two main characters. Mick is suicidal and depressed after losing his best friend to suicide. Layla is Mick’s new best friend that he acquires after he moves to his father’s home following the loss of his late best friend. We get to see the perspectives of teenage life, love and friendship through the thoughts of Mick and Layla. I like the interchanging approach to the chapters so that we can see the point of views from both characters and know what they’re both thinking and feeling within each scene that plays out. We’re not left with many questions as both main characters cover their own thoughts and emotions, themselves, without leaving it to a third narrator’s POV. The style is unique. Therefore, it made it feel personal.

Overall, it was a fast paced, good read. I hope that there’s more to come.

View all my reviews

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Her by Felicia Johnson Review by Personality Disorders Awareness Network PDAN

Her by Felicia Johnson.

Hope, Survival and WIN! My Review of Finish Line Feeling by Liz Ferro

finishlinefeeling

Hope, Survival and WIN!

Finish Line Feeling by Liz Ferro is one of the most inspiring true stories of survival that I’ve ever read! Liz overcame so many obstacles in her journey through life. She was raised in foster care and had suffered sexual and physical abuse. She did not use her past as an excuse not to succeed on her incredible journey. No, Liz did not give up. She went on to help others by finding joy and peace in her success with athletics, running marathons and her organization Girls With Sole. Finish Line Feeling is RAW, unique and uplifting. Liz’s life story is one of hope, survival and WINS!

Purchase Finish Line Feeling By Liz Ferro here on Amazon.com!

Check out Girls with Sole on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/girlswithsoleachieve

and http://www.girlswithsole.org/

Review from Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

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Her by Felicia Johnson, Fiction

Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards

Judges Commentary:

“Wow, this book is intense!  Mesmerizing.  Visceral.  The story is told as a first-person account of Kristin, a seventeen-year-old girl, whose life goes from being raised by a single mom her first few years, to becoming a family when her mom marries Jack and she becomes a big sister to their twins.  She has a best friend who she idolizes and seems to have caught the attention of a really cute boy, John.  But the happiness doesn’t last.

Kristin is unable to please her mother, who constantly finds fault and disapproves of whatever Kristin does or says, making her feel worthless and unloved. But that’s not the worst of it. Jack, in a drunken moment, makes an inappropriate advance to her. She tries to just avoid him, but then Jack starts spending time with Kristen’s brother, Nick, behind closed doors that seems off and Kristen does not want to believe what she is starting to suspect about what is going on.  As if that were not enough, it seems John is starting to have feelings for her best friend!  But it seems like Kristen is not like other kids her age –she is less able to cope and more easily overwhelmed that others, is there something wrong with HER?

The feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and confusion, plus the lack of control over any aspect of her life, causes her to take solace in self-mutilation (cutting), which requires more and deeper cutting to feel the release that it gives her. Then that terrible week she catches John and her best friend in a passionate embrace, and a couple of days later, has her worst fears confirmed about Jack and her brother. And it pushes her to take the ultimate control attempted suicide.  The story begins with that, and her past comes out in flashbacks as the story unwinds.  She is sent to a short-term mental health facility and most of the book is about that time, how she works through her issues.

The author does an amazing job of engaging the reader from the first moment, and the feelings she is able to evoke are visceral and intense. I think so many young people could relate to these feelings of separation, isolation, loss, not feeling loved, and lack of acceptance, even with feelings of not knowing how they fit in to their family.  What I think is most powerful is how the author presents mental health treatment as important and necessary and with such a positive, realistic manner, dispelling the negative stigma and encouraging young people to reach out when things get overwhelming.  She in no way whitewashes the feelings of Kristen or the other patients; their feelings are validated but not in an enabling way at all.

The supporting characters are believable and well-developed. She does a good job of providing insight to the fact that you can’t change the people around you or your past, but you can make different/better choices and learn to cope and gain strength within yourself to deal with the hand you’re dealt.  I just was blown away by the intensity of the book, it is clear that the author has either lived this or worked with people that have, because there is a ring of truth and authenticity that just shines.

The book is ultimately a tale of redemption, empowerment and overcoming not in a happily ever after way that isn’t believable, but in a realistic and credible way.  There are a few very minor construction and spacing issues, but they are minimal.  The book is hard to read because of the subject matter, but extremely well done.  I think this book could really reach some young people at a time when they may be at a crossroad, and give them pause before they try a permanent solution to their temporary situation.  I will look forward to see the author’s next book.  Great job!

January Blog Tour with Dreams Come True!

To promote Her, I have teamed up with a few great blogs to share the word! These great blog owners have graciously taken their time out to read and review my novel. It is an honor to hear the unabashed thoughts of people who love to read! Thank you to everyone who participated!

Kinky Book Klub

2 Chicks and A Blog

Sexy Book Reviews by Shelly & April

Up All Night Book Addict

Up Close & Personal Magazine Article – Her: A Novel Inspired By Loss

This is a text version of the magazine article that was printed this month in Up Close & Personal. In the article, I wrote about how my novel was inspired by my dear late friend Holly and my first writing experience.

Please, take a look and let me know what you think! 🙂

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Up Close & Personal Volume 11 Issue 3

Her: A Novel Inspired By Loss
“Tucker is the place my husband, Dee, and I currently call home. We have lived in Tucker for almost six years. We are originally from the Northeast. I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I lived there until I was nine years old, and my family and I moved here to Georgia when I was ten.
When I was six, my second grade teacher, Ms. Medley, gave me my first composition notebook. About a day later, Ms. Medley gave the class our first writing assignment. The only rule of the assignment was to write one paragraph about something that we wanted.
My first writing assignment was titled: I Want A Dog. It is interesting what happens when a person who was born to write actually begins to write. Paragraph one started with how much I would have liked to have a dog (very much), why (because they are are so cute and fluffy), and why I couldn’t have one (our home was too small to keep one). Then, when I finished with the reason as to why I couldn’t have a dog, I began a second paragraph. Paragraph two stated why I should have a dog despite having a small home (I’d take good care of the dog, and let it sleep in my bed). It was only right that the third paragraph listed what kind of dogs I would have, and paragraph four listed different names I would have named my dog. By the time I ran out of pages in my composition notebook, I hadn’t realized that I had written 100 pages. Scared that I’d get in trouble, I showed my mother what I had written.
My mother found it amusing that I had written 100 pages about wanting a dog. Instead of making me do my assignment again, the way it had been assigned, my mother told me to turn it in. Monday morning came, and Ms. Medley collected all of our notebooks, and read a few good paragraphs aloud. I was nervous and afraid of when she’d see my written assignment. When she finally did see what I had written, she held up my notebook to the class and said aloud, ‘Felicia has written a novel! It is called I Want A Dog.’
I was shocked. I didn’t know what a novel was or how to even make one, but I’d somehow done it. After school, Ms. Medley took the time to explain to me what a novel is. She said it is a prose narrative made up of characters, wishes, wants, emotions, feelings, and expressions. She told me that the writers who produce these novels are called authors. Ms. Medley said that if I keep writing, filling up a hundred-plus pages of notebooks, then one day I could be an author. I asked her if I was in trouble for doing the assignment incorrectly. Ms. Medley’s reply was not what I had expected. She said, ‘Felicia, the assignment was completely correctly as long as it was written by you, and you feel that everything you want to express is in the story.’ I told her I felt that everything was there. Then she replied, “Okay. You’re a writer. Keep on writing.”
I will never forget Ms. Medley’s encouraging words because those words moved me to keep writing through my adolescent years. Coping with depression through writing saved my life. Writing helped me not to use depression as an excuse not to accomplish my goals in life.
Growing up was challenging because I had young parents. I am the oldest of my mother’s four children. My mother was fifteen years old when she became pregnant with me. It wasn’t long after that my little brothers, Barry and Anthony, and little sister, Laura, came along. My mother was a single parent for most of my teenage years. I took on a lot of responsibility, and I helped my mother take care of my brothers and sister. Being forced to grow up fast has its consequences. I developed depression in my adolescent years. Like most children with depression, I was put on medication and saw a therapist to help deal with my depression. However, I found that writing was the best therapy.
When I was fifteen years old, I had a best friend named Holly. Holly was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I saw the challenges that she and her family faced while she suffered. My friend lost the battle with depression due to BPD. She committed suicide when she was only fifteen years old. I learned, after Holly’s death, that she’d had Borderline Personality Disorder. I didn’t know what BPD was until I did research on it. It was confusing to me at the time. I began to study mental health, depression, and personality disorders. I wrote journals about my memories of Holly, our friendship, and what it was like growing up. Before I realized it, the journal had turned into a novel of great memories.
Years after Holly’s death, I had an idea to write a story about a girl who suffered from depression and BPD, but then somehow survived all that she had been through. So, I started on a story, with Holly in mind. Although the story is not about Holly, I wanted to write something that I could dedicate to her. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this story, but I started writing as I did with all of the stories I had written. I wrote the first outline of what the story would be about, and the main characters, but I didn’t quite have an ending for the story.
When I wrote the original version of Her, the main character had a different ending than the version that is being published now. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that I feel like Holly would be proud of the ending that you, as the reader, will read today. If Holly had given herself a chance to be a survivor, I think she would say that this new ending is the ending that she could have had.
I wish that Holly had given herself a chance to grow up. She would have seen that the pain she had felt when she was a child, in the hard life that she had lived, would not last forever. Although it was hard for us growing up, there was a chance for us to become healthy, strong, and happy people. I wish that she was here so that I could give her a hug. As I would hug Holly, I’d say, ‘See? We made it. We’re okay. And we are still the ‘bestest’ of friends!’
I dedicate my debut novel, Her, to Holly. Her is not Holly’s story, but she did provide hope and inspiration. I dedicate this story to my dear friend’s memory. Even though the story is not about her, it illustrates the complex illness of Borderline Personality Disorder. Readers – including those suffering from BPD and their friends and family – can glean insight into the mind of a person who has BPD. It is scary and even funny at times. It is a story about strength and survival.
Currently, I am studying Clinical Psychology and the subject of Personality Disorders has always stood out for me in my studies and experiences.
My husband, Dee, is originally from New York. He came here to attend college back in 2006. College is where we met and fell in love. Always the comic relief, he was the guy who made me laugh the most. It is not surprising to me, and our friends who knew us back in college, that he is a stand-up comedian. Dee performs his comedy in around Atlanta, sometimes at the Laughing Skull Lounge.
I can honestly say that my husband taught me how to laugh, love with an open heart, and never give up. Dee encouraged me to continuously pursue my ambition to become a published author. I’m happy to be married to my best friend and number one supporter. He encourages me to write every day.
When I write, I don’t feel alone. It is because writing brings out many relatable emotions and thoughts to share with others. I don’t only write for myself, but I write for others. I enjoy research, solving issues, and helping people, especially through my writing. I try to always write with a purpose. It is as Maya Angelou said, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget with you did, but people will not forget how you made them feel.’
I write to make my readers feel.”

A Review For: An Umbrella For Alex by Rachel Rashkin-Shootm MS, Psy.D

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An Umbrella For Alex is a story about a boy who whose mother suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. The story is told from young Alex’s point of view. In the story, Alex explains what it’s like to have a mother with BPD. He describes her unpredictable mood swings like the weather. He says it can often be “stormy” or “cloudy”. Alex calls his father an “umbrella” because he helps him feel better about his mother’s disorder. Alex’s dad helps him cope by explaining to him that none of what his mom is going through is his fault. Therefore, showing that Alex has a positive outlook on the situation, even though, he does admit that it is hard and confusing. In the end, young Alex says that it’s good to have someone to talk to and people who care and understand. He has his father, friends, that he plays with, including one that has a father who also has unpredictable moods, and a therapist named Dr. Gillman.

 

Overall, I thought An Umbrella For Alex was smart and educational. It explained what it’s like to have a parent that suffers with BPD from a child’s point of view. It was very clear, and it was written in a way to make the reader think. It asked questions so that readers can try to relate as they read about Alex’s journey to understanding and coping with his situation at home. I think this story is brilliant because not only can children get something from it, but adults can as well. It can be used as an educational tool for parents to explain BPD to their children. An Umbrella for Alex is a refreshing read because it doesn’t make BPD sufferers seem hopeless and hard to understand. It sheds light on the topic of personality disorders with a positive message that we can be our own umbrellas and be umbrellas for others.

 

Be sure to check out An Umbrella For Alex on Amazon. Click here to purchase. And please check out my Author Page on Facebook. Click here, like, and share!

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