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The Laid Daughter: A True Story

Helen Bonner

8 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1884178235 / ISBN 13: 9781884178238
Published by Kairos Center, 1995
Used Condition: Very Good
From Better World Books: West (Reno, NV, U.S.A.)

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Ships from Reno, NV. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP91079455

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Laid Daughter: A True Story

Publisher: Kairos Center

Publication Date: 1995

Book Condition:Very Good

About this title


This is the true story of a woman writer and college professor who finally traces chronic difficulties in her love-life to early sexual abuse. With only journal entries, nightmares, and recovered memories to go on, she relentlessly pursues the truth of her past, no matter how painful it becomes. Despite encounters with those who disparage the value of recovered memories, depite her own tendency to dismiss what she finds too hard to face, she finds a trusted therapist, and goes through the healing process, freeing herself from the dreams, nightmares, and contortions of the unexamined past. As she pursues clues to her history, the life of a dynamic woman unfolds before us; a country girl from a troubled family, before todays equality laws, works her way step by step through a college education to become a successful professor and writer. Only when she goes back and faces the buried past, however, can she find the fulfilling personal life that she longs for. A f! ascinating life story as well as a testament to the value and truth of recovered memories at a time when the popular culture dismisses them.

In The Laid Daughter, we see for ourselves how early abuse of men or women is not simply forgotten, but can divide people against themselves, sometimes even creating the so-called split personality, multiple personality, or in psychological language, post traumatic stress disorder or dissociative disorder.

However, this book is not a downer. It is a psychological who-done-it, a page turner as we wonder whether Helen will find the missing pieces to the puzzle of her life and free herself to enjoy healthy relationships with men. (At one point, she finally gives in to a good marriage then runs away from it a few weeks later!) It is also fun to read the stories this gifted writer examines while she looks for clues to her past. Even the healthiest and most sceptical of us will identify with the challenges she faced in her time: In her twenties, finding the strength to leave an abusive marriage when she has 2 children, nowhere to go and no job training. In her thirties, finding time to go to college while working, being a model wife, and raising a family. In her 40's, serving in Africa in the Peace Corps, getting her first teaching job in Texas, facing administrators that give only lip service to Title IX laws, meeting Gloria Steinem, leading demonstrations against an all-m! ale faculty and adminstration. In her fifties, running a nationally recognized program to educate and place Native Americans in computer jobs, then finishing her Ph.D and landing her first job as a University Professor. All the while, writing her stories, keeping journals, and dealing with an exciting but always frustrating love life with a string of fascinating men: a newspaper editor who may or may not have killed his wife, a suave engineer for whom she is a trophy, a handsome young marine biologist, a mountaineer, a former cowboy. On a broader scale, she discloses the size of a national problem. In a chapter called American Auschwitz, she gives us the statistics, great numbers of people who have undergone early childhood abuse. She takes us with her to a VOICES conference, where she and hundreds of Survivors share their stories, banding together in healing workshops. In a chapter called Leda's Daughter, she goes further back, to trace the cultural acceptance of abuse reflected in war stories, like those from Viet Nam, in ancient legends such as Homer's Illiad, in poetry, such as Leda and the Swan, and in the literature of nearly every religion.

In the chapter Sneaky Snake meets the Bitch Queen, we get a glimpse of how successful therapy works. We meet the insightful Glenda, who carefully and respectfully guides Bonner through the dark caverns of her past. Glenda's respect for her client is possibly the element most responsible for the therapy's success. We also get to enjoy some fine short stories included as "clues" to her past. We follow the evolution of a writer, from her first stories published in True Confessions, to literary prizewinners like Roadside Trinity. It begins: "When Mary first came I was pumping gas, not usually girl's work but patriotic with a war on. In my photo album, the one I decorated with a wood-burning set, I look long and gawky in denims and tee shirt, pointy breats like dredged hills, first permanent exploding like the sun around a solemn face. I liked pumping gas, liked the smooth round handle in my palm, liked watching the gas surge into the glass, heavy red liquid flowing deeper with each long stroke of the handle." Then Mary drives up in her old ford truck and.... you'll have to read it for yourself.

From the Publisher:

Helen Bonner's short stories are familiar to her readers, from True Confession, to Writer's Forum and Dust & Fire. The Laid Daughter brilliantly weaves the wisdom, sexuality, horror, and humor in these stories into her first book. A college professor and femininst, Bonner's writing is always insightful, intricate, meaningful. The Laid Daughter is not just the autobiography of a woman whose life has to be re-built over a history of sexual abuse. Although it does that very well, it is more. It is the autobiography of a woman who emerges from a patriarchal family in patriarchal America of the '40's, comes to some belated understanding of who she is besides a wife and mother in the 50's, is swept up in the women's movement in the 60's, and fights her way to professional achievment in the 70's and 80's. In spite of an abuse history that left her sexually confused, in spite of a culture not quite ready to grant women equal respect, she never veered from her goals --- a full life as a student, a writer, a traveler, a teacher, a wife and mother. In living her life fully, she touched the lives of many like her; women uncertain of their value, returning to school late in life; Native American students who felt little hope of winning good jobs in their community; survivors of abuse, male and female, who found ways to express their unacknowleged grief and move past it. Past or present, Dr. Bonner's work is always directed toward helping women and men understand the deeper cultural currents, benign or malignant, underlying their own everyday experience. Only then, she says, are we ready to move on.

Know thyself is Bonner's underlying theme, and in The Laid Daughter, we experience with a wise and sometimes humorous woman the journey into that deeper self --- the deeper self with whom we must all eventually shake hands. What does a little girl remember about incest? What does a father do to forget? Can the secret stay hidden? This riveting story reveals the nighmare of sexual abuse and the healing power of truth!

Helen Bonner does the seemingly impossible by slaying her emotional dragons and then putting it all down in a compelling fashion. This story of hope and transcendence must be read by those with troubled childhoods and painful memories, and those of us who live with them. Which means, finally, all of us. This courageous relentless woman confronts her ragged, confused memories that have been stored for decades in nighmares and journals. She recovers her life as it was meant to be. Amazing! Helen Bonner's long journey to sexual insight packs the punch of truth. It is a book full of horror, humor, beauty and wisdom.

Anyone who has doubts about the veracity of recovered memories, anyone who is dealing with their own memories, anyone who enjoys a powerful true story, must read this book.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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