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The Sky Isn't Visible from Here: Scenes from a Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 5, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (February 5, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1565125150
  • ASIN: B001PO693W
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A poignant memoir by writer Sullivan palpates the wounds of growing up with an unstable, cocaine-abusing mother. The young narrator's emotionally manipulative mother, Rosina, worked as a waitress at whatever Brooklyn diner hadn't fired her yet for stealing from the cash box in order to feed the increasingly destructive cocaine habit she formed while living with her Israeli-born boyfriend, Avram. Sullivan grew up cringing in the shadow of her crass, chain-smoking mother, who moved from boyfriend to boyfriend, from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to upscale Valley Stream, Long Island. Sullivan tried hard to distinguish herself in school, despite drinking heavily as a teenager to ease social pressure and shoplifting to strike back angrily at her mother. Later, she explains, she fell into similar patterns of self-anesthetizing with cocaine and alcohol while grasping after a lucrative career in finance in her early 20s. Sullivan's memoir cuts predictably back and forth in time and features some memorable types, such as needy early girlfriends whose mothers were as wacky as her own; junkie Aunt Marisol who died of an overdose; and her mother's battering boyfriend Eddie. Putting herself through Fordham, then Columbia's M.F.A. program hardly eased Sullivan's pain, but the act of writing purges her memory.
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"A poignant memoir."-- Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly )

"Sullivan's bracing, pared-to-the-bone prose evokes compassion by being impressively free of the narcissistic self-worship that so often infects books of this stripe."--Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews )

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Customer Reviews

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THE SKY ISN'T VISIBLE will hold you by the throat.
Samara Oshea
Readers will walk away from this book with a much deeper understanding of what it is like to be caught in the life of an addict, or caught in an addiction.
The book is honest, open, and earth-shatteringly real.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By mia3mom on January 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Sky Isn't Visible from Here: Scenes from a Life" is a particularly apt title. Felicia Sullivan uses scenes from her childhood mixed together with chapters that follow her adult life through her addiction and into her recovery. In doing so, the book gains depth, as we know some of the "why" behind Felicia's troubles and addiction. We also see her incredible honesty as she bares her life and soul to the readers, displaying to the world her own wrongs and embarrassing times, which many people would bury. Felicia gives us a window into her world, and then pulls us through the window as we are caught between the memories and her current life.

Felicia worked hard to separate herself from her mother (at the time the book was written, she hadn't been in contact for in 11 years), and at first I couldn't grasp why she became an addict. My thoughts are mirrored in the discussions between Felicia and her friends as she is struggling with her own addictions. Felicia is determined not to become like her mother, but the cocaine calls to her:

"you wonder how it is you got to this point. Because you told yourself in your bathroom that first time in December ... with two rolled bills and neatly cut lines that you'd never be an addict like your mother because you survived the war that was her, because you convinced yourself you were stronger than she was. And then, there go the lines."

Felicia follows this quote a page later with a description of her feelings about cocaine. First, she describes it for her friend, and then she completes the description for the reader:

"'It's like Broadway up my nose,' I say.
What I fail to tell Emily is how many times I've tried it since.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Peyton on March 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I didn't hate the book and it was interesting enough that I was curious how it would end. However, I felt like her writing style was all over the place. Some chapters are about dreams. Some are written in the third person. Some in first person. One chapter I didn't even know what she was talking about. It didn't flow that well and I felt like she was trying too hard. The story itself was soso. I've read better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bethany on February 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wish I could say this book is one of those Happy Ever After Ones, and it is--sorta--but instead it is more of a I Can't Get Over That Felicia Survived This Books. And by It I mean a childhood wrought with hardship, little money, a mother obsessed with drugs, alcohol, herself, and men that were no good. And an adulthood that managed to get her "out" of one lifestyle and into another one. One that was full of more money but just as much alcohol and unfortunately just as much cocaine. Only good point, Felicia got out of it. She found a way to push herself past her mother and let go.

THE SKY ISN'T VISIBLE FROM HERE is wrought with childhood stories of the haunting kind. For me, an ordinary girl from the Midwest with a "normal" mom, it is almost unfathomable that a child could grow up and out of this environment. I'm not that naive to know that it doesn't happen though. I'm just again happy my life was pretty normal.

The most touching portion of the whole book is Felicia's love for her mother. Still. Even though she hasn't heard from her since the night of her college graduation and the fact that she has indeed let her go. Forever. In fact, the entire book revolves around how she is trying to "shed" this love. Her mother haunts her dreams, her decisions, and even her adulthood. That is, until she finally (finally) decides to let go. Let her mother be who she is, without trying to hide it from the rest of the world. And, by doing that, be who she is without her mother. It's breath-taking and honest. A path not many of us would want to take--breaking ties with a parent. And standing firm on it. But it's one Felicia took full heartedly.

The book is honest, open, and earth-shatteringly real.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Katrina Denza on February 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Once in a while I read a book that brings me to my figurative knees. This is one of those books. Felicia writes of growing up in the shadow of a fiercely protective (at times), careless (at other times), seductive, larger-than life, drug-addicted mother who disappeared from her life when Felicia graduated from college. Amazingly, she survived the dangerous situations in which her mother placed her, but not unscathed. Like the generational cycles that occur in many families, Felicia found herself battling the same alcohol and cocaine addictions her mother had. Only, Felicia's story, her life, is much, much different.

"You accepted these things as fact: Normal people shot heroin in their arms, in the spaces between their toes, in their neck. This was normal. This was normal. You kept repeating that to yourself as you played house with Big Michelle, the blond-haired plastic doll with the blue eyes that fell out, the doll that towered over you. When the meth addicts dropped by, raking their arms because of the itch, you colored in the lines of your coloring books with crayons that has exotic names like honeydew and cobalt."

and then later:

"Here on your desk is the stack of business cards that read Felicia C. Sullivan, Project Manager. This is 2001 and you work in a restaurant at a venture capital-backed dot-com. The cards' presence somehow comforts you. Why can't you stop shaking? You know logically that your body is here, but you can't feel it--your lips are numb, limbs slack, toes smothered in these crocodile shoes. And when you talk about milestones, forecasts, and budgets, you get your first nosebleed. Your boss winces and hands you his clean napkin and says, wipe here, wipe there.
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