“Death Without Denial Grief Without Apology” by Barbara K. Roberts

Subtitle: A Guide for Facing Death and Loss

This is a loving clear-eyed unflinchingly personal look at terminal illness, death, and grief by Oregon’s former governor Barbara Roberts. Her husband Frank Roberts died of cancer during her governorship. From the introduction:

I hope for a culture of loving openness in every medical office, […]

“Flying in Place” by Susan Palwick

A twelve-year-old girl is being abused by her father, and is ultimately rescued by their next door neighbors. Her older sister had died, and at the end of the book, the neighbor says, “No one can help her. That’s what being dead means.”

Susan Palwick’s blog title is Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good. That […]

“Waking” by Matthew Sanford

Subtitle: A memoir of trauma and transcendence

Matt was paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 13 in a winter car crash that also killed his father and older sister. His book chronicles the numbness and dissociation that help him survive his first months and years of recovery, and his later reconnection […]

“Tender Morsels” by Margo Lanagan

Recommended to me by: Meloukhia

This is a fairy tale, but no child’s story. It starts with incest and pregnancy and abortion, and continues with gang rape. Then Liga is magically placed in a world that matches her heart’s desire, peaceful and safe.

While examining the consequences of assault and the consequences of avoiding […]

“Alchemy of Illness” by Kat Duff

Subtitle: A woman explores the transforming – and, paradoxically, healing – experience of being ill

Recommended to me by: a client

Alchemists strive to turn lead into gold by heating it alone in a sealed container, a crucible. In the crucible of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Kat Duff turned inward and found healing in the […]

“The Girls Come Marching Home” by Kirsten Holmstedt

Subtitle: Stories of Women Warriors Returning from the War in Iraq

Recommended to me by: A client.

I learned so much from these detailed descriptions of nearly 20 women soldiers, their deployments, and their returns to the US. What it’s like to be a soldier in a modern war. What it’s like in the […]

“The Armless Maiden” edited by Terri Windling

Subtitle: And Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors

This is an anthology of fairy tales retold for adults, with the scary bits left in, and also the bits about resilience and survival. Yes, her father cut off her arms, but then the armless maiden rescues herself and her child through quick wits as well as […]

“CrowHeart” by Keelin Anderson

CROWHEART: becoming unwounded, a memoir of transformation

Recommended to me by: Keelin Anderson

To tell her story of healing from incest and emotional abuse, Keelin Anderson weaves together daily narrative, fiction, quotes, tarot readings, and dreams, all in present tense.

As I read, I saw places where our paths have overlapped, and places where […]

“Leaving the Saints” by Martha Beck

Subtitle: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith

Recommended to me by: Reading Martha Beck’s older books

I first read this years ago and loved it. I came back to it while writing a (forthcoming) article about spiritual abuse and faith. Since I last read it, I read her newer book “Steering […]

“The Jade Peony” by Wayson Choy

Recommended to me by: atdelphi

This novel is an intricate work of art, assembled from one precise detail after another, illuminating the lives of a Chinese family of immigrants to Vancouver, B.C. in the 1930s and early 40s.

The story is told in three sections, from the viewpoints of three children. First the girl, […]