BOOK REVIEW│The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin

Motherhood in the suburbs is an adventure unto itself. Social systems are constructed on your children’s achievements, your helpfulness in your community and your popularity among your fellow soccer moms. It can be a boring existence and it can be one that is easily shattered when you step out of the Stepford Wives Club.

For Lara Love Hardin, her step out comes when her million dollar home on a quiet cul-de-sac is met by the police who are there to arrest her and uncover what she has been doing behind the Stepford Wives façade. Hardin has been stealing her neighbor’s credit cards to fund her heroin addiction and now she faces being charged with 32 felonies and a lengthy jail sentence as she goes from soccer mom to inmate S32179.

Hardin quickly discovers that much like the intricacies of suburban soccer mom life, prison life also offers it’s own social system where candy is currency and tampon boxes make furniture. Also, there is the sad realization that not even prison can quell the adolescent behaviors that permeate through mom social life. Hardin quickly learns what it takes to climb the prison social ladder and becomes “the shot caller.”

In a memoir of falling from soccer mom social status to numbered prisoner, Hardin shows that even rock bottom doesn’t mean it is the end of your life. After her stint in prison, she goes on to become a ghost writer, writing her way through healing and redemption in a memoir that has you laughing, crying and cursing your way through as Hardin shows you that the hardest part of all is forgiving yourself. Powerfully raw–this memoir made me struggle through her journey with her, as a mother myself, I found it hard to sympathize with her and her return to drug use despite the damage it was doing to her young children. However, what kept me reading and loving her writing and her journey was that she told it with humor and humility and ultimately by having her darkest secrets discovered she was able to find herself, find forgiveness and build a new life.

Book Information

The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin will be released on August 1, 2023 from Simon and Schuster with ISBN 9781982197667. This review correspond to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │Have you Seen These Children? by Veronica Slaughter

As this pandemic feels like it will never end in New Jersey, I am struggling to balance virtual teaching, a newborn, a toddler, selling our house and buying our new one all while trying to keep myself writing. It is a crazy time in the Hart Home for sure. Sleep is a short lived commodity, so it was a very big deal for me to give up a night of it to finish Veronica Slaughter’s Have You Seen these Children?.

Her memoir tells the story of how her American father kidnapped her and her siblings from their mother in the Philippines, bringing them to the USA where they moved constantly from state to state to avoid being found. They lived a life full of fear and abuse as the hands of their father. As a mother, I was immediately drawn to the story because I wanted to make sure that these children eventually got home to their mother and away from their abusive father. I was taken down a late-night roller coaster of emotions that left me sobbing in parts reading what Veronica, Valerie,Vance and Vincent endured and lived through at the hands of their manipulative father.

As a mother, this memoir encapsulated my worst fears: having my children kidnapped and having no way of protecting or rescuing them. They were taken from their mother at such pivotal ages that even after being reunified, their experiences at the hands of their pathological father shaped their adult lives and their future trials. Veronica was 8-years old at the time she was taken, and while not the eldest still had the maturity to know the importance of keeping them all together as well as raising and protecting her younger brother. In many ways, it is her wherewithal that keeps the children together and makes this tragedy one that could have had a much worse ending.

Overall, Have You Seen These Children? is a bitter-sweet memoir that will keep you glued to its pages until you have finished it. It will make you laugh and cry as well as play on some of your worst fears. At its heart, it is a tale of love and the trials that we face in ensuring that love remains even if we don’t all get a Hollywood ending. Even in all of the hate and tragedy, the message is still clear: love and sibling bonds can and will survive even when evil wants to destroy them.

Book Information

Have You Seen These Children?: A Memoir by Veronica Slaughter was released on August 18, 2020 from She Writes Press with ISBN 1631527258. This review corresponds to an advanced paper galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.