Growing up in a religious household with an abusive mother, Raquel’s life begins as one of much pain and few answers. When Ethel Mae was born, she was cursed. Everyone wanted her to be born deformed or better still form them dead. As, a young girl, she faced constant physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse. No one should be subjected to the upbringing she has, and her ill fortune only continues as she grows up and enters a frighteningly adult world. As a child she is raped by a trusted family friend; at the tender age of fifteen she is raped by her best friend’s father; and as an adult she is raped by her abusive ex-boyfriend Anthony. Whenever Raquel attempts to break free of this oppression she is pulled back in: authorities are unwilling to help her, family members refuse to believe how deep the torment truly goes and friends seem constantly one step away from betraying her to pursue their own agendas. After trying to date several men and being constantly cheated on or with, Raquel eventually finds out that her family has been hiding the identity of her biological father from her for decades. Just when she is reaching a breaking point, a measure of faith and hope is restored when her mother apologizes for how she treated her growing up, explaining that she had Raquel too young, the circumstances that surrounded her getting pregnant and her own upbringing, informed some of her mistakes. Thankful that she finally has a reason for the hardships of her childhood, Raquel is able to make some peace and a little sense of her life.
“Broken Pieces Behind the Mask” is a dramatic, moving memoir of a traumatic childhood and its impact growing into young adulthood. While honest and passionate, Mae adds humor to cope with the difficult and challenging experiences. She offers insight as to how abuse can devastate someone’s life, and how hard it is to break the cycle.
A story of survival against all odds, Mae hopes “Broken Pieces Behind the Mask” will show readers “That they too can overcome, that it is not the hand you are dealt it is how you play that hand.”
An excerpt from the book: I couldn’t speak to her. I couldn’t trust what would come out of my mouth, so it was best to stay quiet. I bit the inside of my mouth until I tasted blood. It was as though I was suddenly interested in every detail outside of the car, every street sign, the traffic.
After the exploration of childhood misery, the turn to gossipy romantic anecdotes is abrupt. The stream-of-consciousness narrative reads as though Raquel is talking to a best friend who will nod sympathetically even as she describes cheating on a boyfriend (who is himself cheating on his wife). She unapologetically puts her whole self on the page. “Circumstances had made her who she was,” she says as she forgives her mother, challenging readers to similarly empathize with and forgive Raquel.
The book ends with Raquel clawing her way out of suicidal depression and still struggling to build real connections. Some readers will be inspired by her grim persistence; others might prefer a more hopeful ending. A teaser for a sequel promises more romantic angst and fierce self-determination; it’s not clear whether Raquel will ever find peace or genuine love. Mae’s jokes and sarcasm (“Did he just lie there and, poof, a pregnancy materialized? Please!”) can be cathartic but may put off readers who find them too flippant. There’s much in her story that will resonate with those who are willing to accept Raquel as flawed but not unredeemable.
Takeaway: Readers looking for an inspirational story about surviving a painful and challenging life will sympathize with Mae’s tale.
Great for fans of Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever, Kristina Jones’s Escaping the Cult.
Design and typography: C
Marketing copy: C
5 stars ABSOLUTELY CAPTIVATING I couldn't put the book down. I was hooked and addicted from the first page. It is a great read, I can't wait for part 2 ...
5 stars An amazing book completely glued! I read this in 2 days. It truly challenged me to know that someone went through all of this and has survived. I'm left wanting more and eager to read the second book. To see the devastating childhood that she went through, I just hope life is much better for her now.
5 Stars THE POWER OF SURVIVAL This is so well written I felt like I was right there at times. I found myself feeling the emotions she was feeling. It amazes me the strength we have that we don't even realize until we need it! Looking forward to seeing what happens next in part 2...
5 Stars Not a big reader, BUT, THIS BOOK, WOW! From the moment I read the first page I was drawn in. I don’t usually read much but I finished this book in record time (at least for me!). The twist and turns would make this book an excellent movie plot for a movie. I felt like I was holding my breath most of the way though it ...
5 Stars AMAZING BOOK This book was different from the very beginning. It was real, gritty, funny and painful all at the same time. Please hurry with part two! ...
5 Stars What a rollercoaster ride of emotions! I experienced everything reading this book. This is one brave courageous and strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story...