WINNER of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival Wild Card
"Hart's powerful debut, a gritty memoir rife with graphic details of abuse and triumph over it, will break hearts." - Publisher's Weekly
The true story of a runaway teen who escapes incestual sexual abuse only to find herself in predatory Los Angeles in the 1970s.
After years of enduring her grandfather's sexual abuse, 14-year-old Samantha Hart runs away from her Pennsylvania family farm in search of her estranged father in Arizona.
After a troubling reunion, she flees to the promising lights of La-La Land. Desperate to forget the past, she immerses herself in a spectacle of drugs, decadence, and money in Hollywood.
But when a wealthy playboy mistakes her Pittsburgh accent for British, a new spiral of white lies begin, and a new identity is born. Swept to Europe, Samantha floats through champagne parties, sexual adventures, and a whirlwind of international escapades. With a portfolio of nude photos under her arm, she is determined to make something of herself.
Will her young, broken spirit find the strength to persevere, to survive the unsurvivable? Will she transcend the temptation to give up in a world that seems so set against her?
BLIND PONY: AS TRUE A STORY AS I CAN TELL is the tale of one young woman's unwillingness to accept the circumstances life dealt her, and instead, takes the reins to find success beyond her wildest dreams.
Idea: Blind Pony is a difficult, yet ultimately triumphant memoir, about the author's attempts to escape family sexual abuse and the harsh years of substance use and drug addiction that follow.
Prose: Author Samantha Hart's prose flows with lush details and descriptions, and she absolutely nails the rhythms of her Appalachian characters' speech.
Originality: Blind Pony is original for its acknowledgment of the slipperiness of truth, as opposed to other memoirs that present themselves to offer direct, unbiased depictions of factual reality.
Character/Execution: Hart pens a well-executed, paced, and plotted text that is both honest about the realities of sexual abuse and also explores necessary coping mechanisms for survival.
Blurb: A spectacularly written memoir about the impact of cycles of abuse and dependence, Samantha Hart's Blind Pony is an intelligent exploration of both runaway teenage years and the ephemeral nature of truth.
Date Submitted: December 09, 2021
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+