Still Waters

Lauck, Jennifer

Published by Atria, 2001
ISBN 10: 0743439651 / ISBN 13: 9780743439657
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Synopsis: Anger is a poison ivy in the heart and if it grows unchecked, it covers all the soft spaces where you love and understand and feel joy. There's power in anger, sure, a power that can help you survive. But true wisdom is in knowing when to let it go. In "Still Waters, Jennifer Lauck continues the riveting true story begun in her critically acclaimed memoir, "Blackbird. Clutching her pink trunk filled with secret treasures, the last relics of a lost childhood, twelve-year-old Jenny steps off a bus in Reno and straight into the wide-open future, where no path is certain except that of her own heart....Separated from her brother, Bryan, and passed from caretaker to caretaker, Jenny endures as she always has: by following the inner compass of the survivor. But when Bryan chooses a shocking, tragic destiny, Jenny must at last confront the secrets, lies, and loneliness that have held her prisoner for years. Embarking on a search for answers, the adult Jenny discovers that the past cannot be locked away forever -- even when unraveling one's own anger and pain seems an impossible feat. Now, in the warmth and understanding of her marriage, in the eyes of her child, and in powerful conversations with a dynamic young priest, Jennifer finds her own miracles. A hardened heart learns to love. A damaged soul finds peace. And life, once merely a matter of survival, becomes rich with the joys of truly "living.

Review: Readers who breathed a sigh of relief at the end of Blackbird, when 12-year-old orphan Jennifer Lauck was rescued from an abusive stepmother, will have to grit their teeth all over again for the second volume of her memoirs. Jennifer is adopted by her father's sister Peggy and her husband Dick Duemore: he's bullying and mean; she means well but doesn't want to hear anything negative and responds with cold anger to Jennifer's unwanted confidences and insufficiently cheerful behavior. She never feels wanted in a house where she seems valued only for the chores she performs---never well enough for Mom and Dad (as the Duemores insist she call them after the adoption), who remind her constantly how grateful she should be. In prose as stark as if it had been scraped with a scalpel, Lauck recounts an adolescence scarred by lovelessness and haunted by unfinished emotional business from her parents' deaths and separation from her older brother, Bryan. She's honest about her rage and inability to trust: we see her rejecting a sweet high school boyfriend and holding Bryan at arm's length during two brief reunions. Bryan's suicide is a low point, but it starts the healing process; she leaves a failing marriage, and the happiness she finds with her second husband helps her come to terms with her past. No one reading this pitiless book will think Lauck has forgiven the relatives whose lies and selfishness had such disastrous consequences for her and Bryan; she's bitter and she has reason to be. "I know there is a power to anger, the kind of power that helps you survive," she muses in a crucial passage that shows her moving on to acknowledge the necessity of "pulling [anger] back in order to make room for the good things like love and understanding and joy." --Wendy Smith

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Title: Still Waters
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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