Title: The S Word
Author: Paolina Milana
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publish Date: May 5, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "In accordance with her
Sicilian Catholic family’s unspoken code, Paolina Milana learned at an
early age to keep her secrets locked away where no one could find them.
Nobody outside the family needed to know about the voices her Mamma
battled in her head; or about how Paolina forged her birth certificate
at thirteen so she could get a job at The Donut Shop; or about the
police officer twenty-six years her senior whose promise to her Papà to
“keep an eye on her” quickly translated into something sinister. And
perhaps that’s why no one saw it coming when—on the eve of her sweet
sixteen, pushed to edge—Paolina attempted to take her own mother’s life."
My Two Cents:
"The S Word" is a memoir covers the mostly teenage years of Paolina, the daughter of Italian immigrants who is facing a lot of difficulties. Her mother is schizophrenic but due to her not wanting medical attention and her father not being able to navigate the American medical system, she never really gets help. She threatens her family, including Paolina and none of the children nor her husband know what to do about it. Aside from the difficulties with her mother, Paolina is also facing difficulties at work. After laying her way to a job at a donut shop she comes into contact with a 40 something year old police officer, Gunner, who is anything but kind and takes advantage of her. This is a powerful memoir that is often difficult to read because of the subject matter but hard to put down.
I love memoirs when they cover extraordinary circumstances. Paolina definitely for better or for worse has an extraordinarily difficult time during her teenage years. She gives an unflinching account as to what it's like growing up in a household where your parent's mental stability is in question and nobody seems to know what to do about it. The tribulations that she faces by herself are incredibly difficult and she doesn't always deal with them in the most healthy way because she doesn't really have a great support system. Her father tries that he has his hands full with Palena's mother.
I really enjoyed this book because it is so raw and unflinching. I liked how the author gave us a first row seat to some really difficult subjects. Overall, I think this book would appeal to anyone who enjoys memoirs but doesn't mind really tough stuff.