- Nelda Mohr
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If you like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, here are several inspiring memoirs of people who have survived extremely abusive and difficult childhoods, yet who have found success in their adult lives. The stories are grim but inspiring.
All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg.
This haunting, harrowing, and gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin tells the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt poor in Alabama, and who became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for "The New York Times".
A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown.
The bestselling memoir of Cupcake Brown's harrowing and inspiring life from the streets to one of the nation's largest law firms The book bedazzles the reader with the amazing change that is possible in one lifetime.
They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch
Burch was left at an orphanage and never stayed at any one foster home long enough to make any friends. This is the story of how he grew up and gained the courage to reach out for love.
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir Of My Father by Augusten Burroughs.
The author of "Running with Scissors" delves into new territory with his most personal and unexpected memoir yet. "A Wolf at the Table" is the story of Burroughs' relationship with his father, his stunning psychological cruelty, and the redemptive power of hope.
The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway.
One women's journey from a childhood in Australia's outback to adulthood as a successful American career woman. The Road from Coorain is about Everywoman, for it is about childhood loneliness, anguished parent-child relationships, dawning sensibility, discovering a vocation, and finding one's own sense of self.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. The book is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
Driving with Dead People: A Memoir by Monica Holloway.
This remarkable memoir recounts scenes and events that are, without question, dreadful for any child; yet her prose shines with humor, clear-eyed grace, and an uncommon sense of resilience. "Driving with Dead People" is an extraordinary story with a resourceful heroine. Fascinated with death as a child she became close friends with the local undertaker's daughter. The two drove a hearse to pick up bodies at the airport. The author and her siblings suffered greatly from one neglectful and one abusive parent. The author presents her story via the theme of death.
The Liars' Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr.
Karr recounts her horrendous childhood with a violent father and an alcoholic mother who married six times. The story is told with humor and obvious affection for and understanding of her parents.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele--Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles--as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as "liquid armor," a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about alcoholism, but about life itself and how we learn to cope with it.
Blackbird: A Childhood Lost And Found by Jennifer Lauck.
This heartbreaking memoir reconstructs the sad and turbulent events of Lauck's childhood, which was overshadowed by the illness and early death of her mother. When she was seven Jennifer’s mother died, and her father remarried a stepmother the Grimm Brothers could have conjured up. The read is left wondering why her father could have been so unaware of his children’s misery.
The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer.
J.R. Moehringer grew up listening for the sound of his missing father, a disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. spoke his first words. His mother was his world, his anchor, but J.R. needed something more. So, he turned to the patrons of a grand old New York saloon. There, the flamboyant characters along the bar taught him, tended him, and provided a kind of fatherhood by committee. Riveting, moving, and achingly funny, "The Tender Bar" is an evocative portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man.
Fat Girl: A True Story by Judith Moore.
"I am fat" begin's Moore's description of an abusive mother, ignored or teased by those around her; she has always been defined by her size. But as she traces her obsessions with food, and struggles with self image and troubled relationships, she refuses to become an object of pity. Instead she demonstrates a remarkable strength and honesty.
Are You Somebody: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain.
A columnist for the Irish Times O’Faolain tells of growing up in Dublin and searching for a sense of self within the conservative Irish Catholic environment.
Lucky by Alice Sebold
In this memoir, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was transformed when at age 18 she was raped and beaten in a park near her college campus.
This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff.
In this unforgettable memoir of boyhood in the 1950s, we meet the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move. Between themselves they develop an almost telepathic trust that sees them through their wanderings from Florida to a small town in Washington State. Fighting for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, Toby's growing up is at once poignant and comical. His various schemes--running away to Alaska, forging cheeks, and stealing cars--lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him into a new world of possibility.