Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Naked: Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina by Julie Freed is the motivating story of a woman who overcomes loss and disaster with a lot of strength and will power. Julie finds herself amid turmoil and chaos when her marriage disintegrates and she faces a divorce. Simultaneously, living in the Gulf Coast she finds her home destroyed in the hurricane. It is an incredible story of setbacks and losses, hurt and rejection, and ultimately rising above all the crises and turning life around in a positive way. The author's expressions, experiences and traumas are eloquently shared with readers and anyone who has undergone a personal loss can relate to the story.
It is a powerful and emotional memoir about a woman who starts rebuilding her life. The story is honest and stark and it shows the strength of a woman who does not give up, despite the setbacks she faces. The starkness, rawness and the candor with which the author has written the story is gripping. It is a story of loss, redemption, survival and finally renewal that will inspire and motivate many readers and also leave them tearful. The author's experiences and emotions are so personal that it is like reading a personal diary. The memoir is poignant and the author pulls readers into the story, making them feel as if it is their personal journey. The story is empowering and can be equated to a phoenix rising from the ashes.
A beloved poet once wrote: "What comes from the heart goes to the heart." I've just finished reading "Naked," Julie Freed's powerful, emotional account of her survival from both the terrible break-up of her marriage and the tragic loss of her home and belongings from Hurricane Katrina. It was all written from her heart and has reached mine, as it will yours. The author's unflinching honesty and her enormous courage left me breathless in anticipation of each word. And I could not put her book down. It is riveting! Freed is a gifted writer, and her story is a compelling one of love, desperation, loss, and compassion. We're rooting for her all the way, and as readers, we're both thrilled and rewarded by her re-creation of herself, and by her constant, abiding love and care for her child. Her rendering resonates deep within as she shares her amazing story of redemption.
The wisdom she's gained came hard, earned through devastating loss, and we would be wise to listen to all the lessons she's learned, among which, how in this life, 'stuff' is not what matters: "It too can dissolve into the wind or the ocean." Instead, what she learns from all the destruction around her is a compassion and love for all humanity, a belief in the human spirit, in our goodness to each other, and a precious desire and insight about how to live her life after all that's happened: a life lived on her own terms. She even comes to an understanding of the real limitations of a man she had once loved and thought she knew so well. She learns to be "self-sufficient," and for women reading this, it is a true lesson in empowerment. But this is a memoir for both women and men to read and savor. Thank you, Julie Freed, for a wonderful, gratifying, and beautiful book!
We are proud to announce the finalists in our 2014 Readers' Favorite annual International Award Contest! This was no easy task as this year saw a record number of contestants, with categories having from several dozen to several hundred contestants depending on popularity. The order of the finalists displayed in each category is random and does not imply any form of ranking.
Our judges picked an average of 6 finalists from each category. Categories with a larger number of finalists is the result of books being a finalist in multiple categories. However, when judging is complete on September 1st a book will only be a winner or finalist in ONE category. Authors currently listed in multiple categories will only be listed in the category where they won their highest award and will be removed from all the other categories they entered. This will reduce the number of competitors in these currently larger categories.
Freed's prose is often gorgeous and surprising. A candid account of personal devastation and renewal.