Thursday, October 10, 2013

Willow in a Storm by James Peter Taylor Book Review

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Scarletta Press; 1 edition (September 28, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 097652015X
ISBN-13: 978-0976520153

Book Synopsis: In this raw, unflinching memoir, James Peter Taylor, with the help of his wife Kathleen Murphy-Taylor, recounts the events of his unusual life, over forty years of which were spent incarcerated. Mentally and sexually abused by his adoptive father, Jim Taylor receives a life sentence at age 30 when he accidentally kills Kenneth Lindberg, a Minnesota banker and married father of four, during a robbery. Taylor manages to survive in prison, despite the rampant violence, in part by playing a woman’s role, a gender switch that becomes second nature to him. After decides behind bars, a wiser and more spiritual Taylor is released in the 1990s back to civilian life, bolstered by his marriage to the book’s coauthor and former social worker, Kathy Murphy. Willow in a Storm demonstrates hope even in the most dismal of circumstances.

James Peter Taylor's memoir, Willow in a Storm, is a testament to courage and what the human mind can endure and overcome. His crimes start out between the ages of 25-30 and his first arrest is due to his inpersonation of an FBI agent, all just to keep a girl out later than her given curfew. These minor crimes continue, from bigamy to bad checks until he thinks he has come up with the perfect crime : robbing a bank and framing the bank manager. Things go terribly wrong and something that should have been simple turns into murder, leading James to prison for a 40 year sentence at the hands of a politician looking for something to boost his career. Willow in a Storm gives detailed accounts of James' life, from his formative years which included abuse, to his attempts at getting paroled and finally to his release. The only criticism I have is that the book jumps around and can be confusing in the timeline of events. Overall this is a book that is an eyeopener for those who are unsure what the justice system is truly all about, and what prisoners go through on a daily basis.

About the author: James Peter Taylor and Kathleen Murphy-Taylor have been married for 11 years. Jim managed to survive over 40 years in prison and was released at age 70, partially blind. Today, over a decade later, he faces further health battles, including dementia. Kathy received her MSW from the University of Michigan. She practiced social work for 32 years for private and public agencies. In her retirement, she devotes herself to caring for Jim. They live in Minneapolis.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Sitting Swing by Irene Watson Book Review

Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Loving Healing Press (July 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1932690670
ISBN-13: 978-1932690675
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches

Book Synopsis:   Irene Watson's pretentious life could go no further until she faced her past. Her moving and inspiring memoir begins at the end, in a recovery center, whe she has gone to understand a childhood fraught with abuse, guilt, and uncertainty. Two distinct parts of the book look at abusive child rearing and the process of recovery years later. This story shows change, growth, and forgiveness are possible. It gives hope and freedom to those accepting the past and re-writing life scripts that have been passed down for generations. It's never too late to change your life, never too late to heal.

This book was truly an eye opener. Upon hearing of Irene's upbringing, I got tears in my eyes. My mother is not a whole lot older than Irene, and yet she had clothing bought for her and plumbing and electricity her entire life! She was the oldest of 6 children, but never felt neglected (maybe the first born syndrome was in play...even then). My heart broke for young Irene, constantly living in the shadow of a brother she never knew, and was never spoken of. She could do nothing right, yet had no freedom as both of her parents were afraid of what might happen to their daughter. Their fear may have led to their inability to show her the love she so desparately craved, and led to her seeking to find any way out of a miserable exsistence.

This books starts out with Irene enrolling in Avalon, a treatment facility recommended by her friends. She is leary from the very beginning as she looks up at the corner of the room and sees a video camera. There is no way she is going to consent to being videotaped, who do these people think they are? After dealing with Gilles for the first two weeks, she is ready to throw in the towel. She is not sure she believes anything that he is "preaching", it is the same old, same old and he is harsh and demeaning in his delivery. After the first two weeks his wife Liliane takes over the sessions and it is a different world. Gone is the harsh and demeaning lessons, and the love and support that Irene felt so lacking in the beginning of her stay comes shining through...that is until she has to do a scripted session about a conversation she envisions with her husband. Liliane has words with Irene, words that shock Irene but in the end lead her to the breakthrough she needed all along.

There were so many parts of this book that I could relate to. I have some people in my family that struggle with alcohol, and it is heartbreaking to watch. It also is the reason that I don't drink, something that Irene and I share. Don't get me wrong, I will have an occasional glass of wine, but do not enjoy being around people that have had too much to drink. I also can relate to the overprotective aspect of mothering...but I am the culprit. I don't seclude my daughters, but I do have a daughter with heart defects and there isn't a day that passes that I don't try to protect her just a little bit more than you might a "regular" child. I think the part that I could relate to the most was the Needs section from her stay at Avalon. After reading that I knew that this was my type of woman - it was exactly the way I thought of things. This was an excellent book, and one I would recommend highly. Great job Irene, and I look forward to more from you in the future!