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Elephant Girl: A Human Story [Kindle Edition]

Jane Devin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (542 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.70
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

Written in three distinct voices—child, teen and adult—Jane Devin takes readers on an intimate, imaginative and often harrowing life journey. Born unwanted and raised without love, the child-author invents a rich inner life to see her through years of trauma. Leaving home at 16, the teen-author struggles to find happiness and a sense of place in a world that feels confusing and unfamiliar. Then, years after stumbling into an adulthood mired in tragedy and broken dreams, the woman-author finds herself at a crossroads. The choice she ultimately makes is as stunning as it is brave.Told in unflinching and often lyrical prose, Elephant Girl goes beyond a singular life story to speak of powerful, universal truths and the ability of the human spirit to redeem itself.

From the soul of a broken child and the heart of a resilient woman comes a story about turning imagination into possibility and scars into art. - Rosie O'Donnell, Talk Show Host

In a culture of bootstraps and bromides, it has become unfashionable to talk about the long-term effects of child abuse and being raised without love or nurture. Unlike psychologist Harry Harlowe’s infamous experiments with monkeys and maternal deprivation — where all his subjects ended up abnormal or dead from what has been termed “emotional anorexia” —abused children are supposed to be more resilient. In fact, a significant number of people insist that child abuse isn’t really that big of a deal and that such children will eventually enter into adulthood with the same knowledge and tools as those who were not abused, or at least be able to gain them quickly and easily. Less acknowledged is the fact that there can be long-term and even lifelong physical, social and emotional consequences of child abuse. Oftentimes, the one affected doesn’t even realize what those consequences are until well into adulthood. High anxiety, hyper-vigilance, thwarted sexuality and brain damage that went undiagnosed until the age of 46 were just some of the after-effects experienced by the author of Elephant Girl: A Human Story.

The story of Precious ends with her teenage years. Jeannette Walls concludes Glass Castles as a college student. In A Child Called It, Dave Pelzer is removed from his abusive home by age 12 and eventually finds a loving foster family. In contrast, Elephant Girl: A Human Story is about what happens when there is no clear path to follow, no outside guidance and no dramatic rescue—when the only life-saving graces are imagination, self-determination and, ultimately, an undefeatable sense of hope.

This is not an easy story to read. Those who enjoy reading about miracles or quick solutions will surely be disappointed. Those looking to cast blame or buoy their belief that they could have done better will find plenty of ammunition. However, those who are willing to see beyond the convenience and labels of bootstraps and bromides — who believe that human experiences are diverse and complex — will find much to relate to in this rarely told story.

Editorial Reviews


  • "From the soul of a child and the heart of a woman comes a story about turning imagination into possibility and scars into art." - Rosie O'Donnell, Talk Show Host

From the Author

I've written many articles about child abuse over the years, both as a social issues writer and a survivor. I have felt the frustration of being told that it's a "cliched" topic. I've seen the label "victim" misused and spit out as an insult. I've seen scientific evidence of permanent brain changes (caused by the stress hormone cortisol) in neglected children thrown out by those who would like to believe that everything under the sun is a matter of personal choice and character. I didn't write this book for those people. As Joseph Dunninger once said on another matter altogether, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice." Instead, I wrote this book for those who struggled against the odds to forge their own roads to recovery -- who may not have always known how, and who may have stumbled so horribly along the way that they didn't know if recovery would be possible -- but who loved life enough to keep hoping and trying. There really is a green field on the other side. It took me four decades to find it -- to accept the support and faith of others and to take the risk I needed to take to save my own life -- but now that I'm here it feels more important to me than ever to let other "elephant girls" know that they are not alone. Beyond damage, beyond brokenness, beyond even the worst mistakes and hurtful judgments, there is a place of redemption and repair.

Product Details

  • File Size: 678 KB
  • Print Length: 486 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FFTRO0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,262 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I first came across Jane Devin's writing in 2007 on her online blog focusing on a wide variety of topics....everything from politics, family, poverty, child abuse and protection, women's experiences and the challenges of being a writer, to loving and the human condition. Let's just say Ms. Devin's never been one to shy away from the 'big issues'!

Then, late in 2009, with support from many of her online friends and fans, and some surprising (at least to her) corporate sponsorship, Jane left her life in Minnesota and boldly set out on a solitary cross-country journey. Challenging herself to explore this country and her own inner landscape in a way she never had before, she wrote about the trip and the people she met all along the way. That journey ultimately lead Jane to find her way to writing this book, a personal story that had eluded her for years, a book and a story that perhaps haunted her.

Today, finally, her compelling and ultimately inspiring story is available for readers everywhere who have an interest in the human condition, no matter how sometimes dark and frightening it may be. 'Elephant Girl' is written in Devin's unique voice that can be extremely graphic, conjuring harrowing visual imagery that would seem well suited for an indie film screenplay. At its core, it recounts a disturbing story and a difficult life that is illuminated by the author's sheer determination to survive and not allow the horrors of a broken childhood to defeat her, and elevated by the fascinating prose form she's uses to describe her experiences....and the choices they lead her to make along the way. It's a story--a life--that she's lived with courage and sublime creativity, and that she relates in a literary form that's engrossing and cathartic!

I can only suggest that you get carried away by it!
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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, Real and Rare August 3, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jane Devin takes us on the ride of her life, in this phenomenal memoir, Elephant Girl. Truly, when I first started reading EG, I did not believe that it was her story. Really? I thought to myself, how on earth has she been able to pull herself together and put this on paper - and in such elegant prose?

Rarely will you find a person who can not only endure the dark side of life, but can relay it in such a fashion that you jump on board and hold on for the trip. Like a cowardly roller-coaster ride, you will read, peering through your fingers, but you will not be able to stop.

And just when you are gasping for air, she tell you something that will make you believe in the human spirit. She will showcase over and over again, that even in the darkest of dark, we can rise from the ashes and love. Even when we are in the deepest despair, we can still reach out to feel the power of destiny and hope.

This is Jane's first published book, but it is my hope that it is her first of many to come. She is Van Gogh with a pen. Of that I am sure.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Enraging, Eye Opening... Love it!! August 4, 2011
By Kerry
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this is one night... being an insomniac that isnt as amazing as it sounds... I found this to be exactly what I needed in my life right now... Sad to say that most of it was because I identified so much with almost all of it... What I found the most engaging were the sections that talked about how she processes thoughts and feelings, and explaining how she was able to make it through each event, file it away and face the next challenge... I LOVED this book, You have no idea how much.... You will be a better person for having read it :)
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50 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great parts, but in need of editing down January 4, 2012
By stz
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think this would have been a great book had a "strict" editor insisted on whittling it down by 100 pages or so.

There were a lot of parts of the book that I really liked and many passages which I highlighted because they were so good. I especially liked the section on the narrator's stint with a "group" rehab program. The subtle mockery of the program comes out through the description of her experience there. Unfortunately, the entire book is not characterized by such subtlety.

At times I felt the novel was tedious. It is not just that it was difficult to relive with the author all the painful moments that she goes through - though that is part of it: there was very little to relieve the constant agony and the depression of everything going wrong. But it was the extreme detail that sometimes was just too much. Whole pages describe in detail every bill the narrator must pay , how many diapers she is down to, etc.

The other thing I found difficult to plow through were sections with the narrator's musings about her life philosophy, or rather her rejection of life philosophies held by others. I think an author is much wiser to let her ideas flow subtly from the text without basically addressing the reader directly to say what she thinks. She already employs the strategy of speaking to a psychologist - giving her leeway to express her thoughts in quite a direct manner to the reader - so why soliloquize directly to the reader? Where is the subtlety? Moreover, these sections were quite repetitive. How many times do we need for the writer to tell us that she rejects the idea that people always get what they deserve?

As I wrote, there is a great 350 page book inside this 478 page novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I loved this book! I'm so glad i found it, and I'll be reading the author's blog now. I can't say enough for how beautifully it is written. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Barb Weber
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-wrenching!
I started and finished this book within 24 hours. I could NOT put it down. What a fabulous read, about an incredible journey. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Cindy L. Samuel
3.0 out of 5 stars Started fast and turned into a slow read with an unbelievable main...
I was anticipating a story of an abused child who grows up and the problems she will encounter due to her abusive past. Read more
Published 15 days ago by D. Mcknight
5.0 out of 5 stars Elephant Girl
Good read on a cold rainy night in Maine .I will be recommending to friends , and family to read.
Published 21 days ago by Gail
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all stories have happy endings
Not all stories have happy endings, and not all lives are worth living. Elephant Girl is a memoir about the echoes of an abusive past that continue to ring out through a person's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Christian
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
I saw that this book was free and, without knowing what it was about I decided to pick it up as a random read; and I'm glad I did. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Heartfelt
This is usually not the type of books I read, however, I am so glad I stepped out of my box to read it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Magan E. Bongard
4.0 out of 5 stars earthy and real
Elephant Girl is a honestly naked book of struggle and survival. Much can be taken away from this candid tale on love and family bonds. Well written and poetic.
Good read.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I didn't feel as though it was a novel, I felt more like I was reading someone's life story and experiencing it right along with them. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Denise
5.0 out of 5 stars Expertly Written
I absolutely loved this book. And there is really nothing more I can say. This book covers a wide range of ideas and problematic theories, to even try to talk about each would take... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kaela Wolf
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More About the Author

Jane Devin is an essayist and author presently residing in Arizona. Her memoir, "Elephant Girl: A Human Story" was published in 2011. Her first novel, "Bright Lines," was published in 2014. Her next novel, "Amplify Me, Magnify You" will be out in 2015.

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