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Lily's Odyssey Paperback – January 29, 2010
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About the Author
Carol Smallwood has appeared in English Journal, Michigan Feminist Studies, The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Journal of Formal Poetry, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Writer's Chronicle, The Detroit News, and anthologies. The Published Librarian: Successful Professional and Personal Writing by the American Library Association, is her 19th book. She's in Who's Who in America; in Best New Writing 2009; Eric Hoffer Award Short List.
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Top customer reviews
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A lily is a symbol of purity while an odyssey, when we think of Odysseus, is a heroic journey accompanied by the gods. As we accompany Lily through the decades of her journey--childhood, marriage, motherhood, divorce, grandmotherhood--we find her an endearing representative of this passage of countless contemporary women, who are largely unaccompanied by the gods.
At age three--following her father's death in the war and her gardener mother's death a week later when their home burns--Uncle Walt, Lily's father's brother, and Aunt Hester adopt Lily and her brother, Vincent, 5. The story opens with Lily, at retirement age, going to the hospital for her final visit with Uncle Walt, who is dying.
A few days later, Lily's brother Vincent, now a Catholic bishop, leads the congregation in Uncle Walt's memorial service. Vincent honors Uncle Walt as "...a good friend, a trusted neighbor, a public-minded citizen, a fond relative, a beloved and devoted father to his adopted children," then adds, "Walter was God's chosen, the salt of the earth."
Lily is in her 30s when her "time bomb" goes off and her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms begin. Smallwood shows us how, through Lily's relationships with her aunt, uncle, husband, church, as well as her lifelong introspection, when the human mind experiences too much trauma, it is forever altered. As Lily embarks upon connecting the threads of her past trauma with her present behaviors, we take each step with her in the lifelong, convoluted, and very difficult journey. Smallwood's unique skill allows her reader to experience what Lily experiences at different points during her odyssey. We are cushioned when Lily's mind cushions her suffering through denial or dissociation, so she can cope and go on with her life. As healing brings Lily's life into clearer focus, so does the reader also experience more clarity.
There is a delicate balance and haunting grace to Smallwood's words. Lily's Odyssey is an exquisite psychological detective novel that explores how family, marriage, and religion each can play powerful roles in denial, repression, and dissociation. Spending time with this book can be equated with entering a hallowed space that explores the labyrinth of a woman's wounded psyche with reverence, insight, intelligence, honesty, and unusual skill. Lily's Odyssey is singular and stands well ahead of any of the numerous books I've read in its ability to portray what that long journey is like.
by Mary Jo Doig
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
As the CEO & Founder of a worldwide child abuse & neglect organization, I have read and researched a great deal of the literature and books on the subject of child sexual abuse. This is one of the best books written at really conveying the after-effects, pain and impact upon a developing young mind and body.
While novels reflect the human condition and provide the reader with vicarious experiences, a biography brings life itself to the printed page. Autobiography and memoirs are especially intriguing, despite the fact that the author may only reveals those aspects of her life that she chooses to share with others. Autobiography and memoirs most often provide a catharsis for the author. The writer relives her experiences by sharing them with her readers. The memoirist enhances the understanding of human psychology through sharing experiences with others, while she views herself simultaneously.
"Lily's Odyssey" remains the definitive argument for the overwhelming prevalence of incestuous abuse. It is an extremely powerful read for anyone who wants to understand, relate to, or comprehend what child molestation and incest is really like. "Lily's Odyssey", despite its painful subject, is beautifully written and highly inspirational. I recommend this book and will utilize it in all of my workshops on abuse and to my clients that are ready to face their pain and recover. I am grateful that Carol Smallwood shared her continuing journey with us as it is guaranteed to help many.
Smallwood is an incredibly gifted author with a broad range of experience, education & knowledge on the subject of abuse. She demonstrates commitment to conscience in her work through Michigan Feminist Studies, The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, and Best New Writing 2009.
CEO & Founder
Dreamcatchers for Abused Children
One Step Ahead of Fate
Unnecessary Roughness: Till Death Do Us Part
The Child Abuse Survivor Project
Extraordinary Confessions of Child Abuse
-Janet Muirhead Hill, author of Kyleah's Tree, finalist, Parmly Billings High Plains Book Award; and author of the Miranda and Starlight book series; founder, Raven Publishing, [...] Kyleah's Tree
co-author of The Courage to Heal
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We know this as readers. We know this as women.
And we know this as healers ourselves, whether we are survivors of abuse or helping the...Read more