When your mother names you after your father's mistress, you might wish you were living someone else's life. For Samantha Hart, growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania had been no childhood idyll but rather a violent, surreal nightmare. A twisted vision of pastoral life part Faulkner part Dante. At fourteen years old, she ran away in search of her father, a character she only knew as Wild Bill. Discovering he wasn't the hero she dreamt he'd be, Sam was on her own. Arriving in Los Angeles at the peak of LA's decadence where money, drugs, and good times flowed, she floated through a strange new world of champagne-soaked parties, high-stakes backgammon tournaments, and a whirlwind of international escapades flogging nude photographs. When a wealthy playboy mistakes her Pittsburgh accent for being British, it begins a spiral of white lies leading Sam to question everything she thought she knew about herself and who she could be. What emerges in Blind Pony is a story of healing and hope, a coming of age narrative intersecting theme of recovery, redemption, forgiveness, and the struggle it takes to define life on your terms.
Readers will be flabbergasted by Hart’s tenacious survival instincts. From the cradle, the cards were against her; disturbingly and spitefully, her mother named her Pam after her father’s mistress, and her vindictive father put sugar in her gas tank to foil her move to Los Angeles. But despite being dealt a losing hand in the parental game, she quickly sized up what she needed to do to survive, including selling softcore porn to European magazines and pretending to be old enough to waitress in restaurants serving alcoholic beverages. A lesser spirit would have given up early on, but Hart admirably soldiered forward.
Hart’s incredible resilience and courage will captivate anyone who reads her words. Her rise to top roles in the advertising game and in Hollywood is nothing short of an amazing reinvention, and her perseverance eventually led to a life-changing friendship and new love. Unforgettable and raw, Hart’s deeply honest musings will ring true to all abuse survivors and those who want to understand what it’s like to walk through fire.
Takeaway: Hart’s frank narrative of surviving domestic abuse may be rough going for her fellow survivors, but it will awe anyone seeking a memoir of determined self-invention.
Great for fans of Mackenzie Phillips’s High on Arrival, Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+