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orangeI just finished reading “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.” It is one that will stick with me for a long time. If you’re not familiar with it, the author, Piper Kerman, admits to carrying a suitcase full of cash from drug sales from the United States to Europe and is later sentenced to 15 months in prison. Throughout the book she shares her fears, hopes and daily interactions of life inside a federal prison for women. Every little thing we take for granted in our daily lives is stripped from Kerman behind bars. Soap. Socks. Chicken dinners. Privacy.

Memoirs are a powerful way to experience a life very different from our own. Obviously I’ve never been to prison, and I hope I never have to. But there is a huge curiosity factor there. And Kerman’s memoir leaves nothing out. From descriptions of her fellow inmates to creative baking recipes for microwave cheesecake to strip searches… she lived it and wrote it all in the pages of her book.

If you like learning and reading about people who are different from yourself a memoir is a great place to start. Here are a variety from WriteLife Publishing that will entertain and amaze you with their honesty and emotion:

motherA Mother’s Dance by Pattie Welek Hall

How does one measure the depth of a mother’s love? Pattie never thought it possible until she experienced every mother’s worst nightmare—twice.

With all three kids in college and thriving, Pattie is excited about embarking on her new career as community relations manager at Barnes & Noble. That is, until she receives word that her nineteen-year-old son has been admitted to the Medical University of South Carolina and tagged “John Doe” after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now her sole concern is to get to Charleston, 250 miles away, before he takes his final breath.

Although Casey is given only twenty-four hours to live, Pattie clings to her faith and refuses to accept her son’s death sentence. During Casey’s long and arduous healing, Pattie takes a hard look at the past—the kids’ tender childhood memories, their challenging teenage years, the skeletons in the closet, and the circumstances that have formed her into who she has become. When tragedy strikes again, Pattie must make a choice—to remain stuck in her grief or to step into the life she’s meant to create.

Moving and heart-wrenching, A Mother’s Dance is a story about hope, perseverance, self-discovery, hard choices, and most importantly about love . . . the sad and the wondrous.

tutu-388x600My Life in a Tutu by Jackie Madden Haugh

Sitting in the dark once again, Jackie waited for the familiar turn of the key to signal he was home safe. It was a night like so many before, but this time anger burned within her soul.

On March 11, 2001, the life she had known was shredded through the meat grinder that is infidelity. Jackie quickly spiraled out of control into a world of depression and self-loathing.

Looking back, she began to see that this one incident wasn’t the sole cause of her demise. A life of constantly striving to be perfect left her roots in shallow soil. And a debilitating fear persistently whispered, “It’s too late for you.” Would she ever be complete if not married?

As her four children became impatient with the demise of their supermom, Jackie realized it was time to take an accounting of how she let herself fall so low—or lose her children too.

Jackie spent months delving into her past despite wanting to run away from the task. After all, true recovery requires being brutally honest with all the pieces to the puzzle; not just the pain caused, but the role she played in it too.

softlikesteelSoft Like Steel by Barb Malek

Barbara, a devout Mennonite farm-girl, had been married less than a year when her husband suddenly vanished. Her safe and happy world disappeared along with him. Who was this man she had wed? Why would he leave for months at a time, returning to a family in need empty handed? The unexpected truth would lead her through years of pain and heartache, fighting for the survival of not only her marriage, but their children as well.

Soft Like Steel is the true story of Barbara’s courageous journey, as laid out in the pages of her hand-written journal. Set against a backdrop of Nebraska and Iowa during the devastation of the Dust Bowl and World War II, it is a tale of much more than mere survival. It is a testimony to an incredible woman whose love and devotion rescued her family from the curses of the past into lives of stability, purpose and joy.


waterRunning Water, Living Water by Angela Sudermann

Running Water, Living Water is a personal tale from a mission trip leader in the United States, to a small Lahu Village in Thailand. Angela Sudermann shares the story of a small village and their vision of healthier lives for the community. She also discusses how a dedicated group of hill tribe men and women serve in a ministry called the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) to help villages realize that vision. The book is a call to people to go experience Thailand – the wonderful hospitality, the amazing food, the beautiful country, and share in the work, as ITDP continues to work with villages through water and sanitation, agricultural, educational, medical projects and more.

wl_otherwomancover_1The Other Woman by Tunette Powell

The Other Woman is a bold and emotional memoir based on a sixteen-line rap written by the daughter of an addict.

In this honest portrayal of addiction, Nette loses herself in the stories of her father’s struggles. She vividly recounts his memories of the crack houses and prison cells he once frequented, and openly recalls how that other world stole so many years from Bruce Callis and his family.

Bruce, who began selling drugs when he was fourteen years old, first smoked crack cocaine while selling the drug to an attractive woman in a crack house. In the decades that followed, he traded everything – household goods, the money meant to feed his children – to finance his habit. While Bruce wasn’t watching, Nette grew up. She faced challenges of her own – being molested as a young child and searching for her father’s love in every man she met. But in the process, Nette searches for a way to not only forgive her father, but to understand him.

See all Memoirs and Biographies here.

All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or can be ordered by your favorite local bookstore.