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naseem rochette
The Unexpected Benefits of Being Run Over
Breaking doesn't mean you're broken. In a pedestrian crosswalk on a quiet tree-lined street, Naseem is hit and then run over three times. Onlookers yell for the driver to stop as she hears her fate in her husband's screams. Is he is watching the mother of his children die? Miraculously, she survives, yet she is no longer the person she worked so hard to be. Her "cracks"-the changes to her body and mind-initially feel impossible to accept. In learning to embrace this new, unrecognizable self, Naseem decides to celebrate the day she almost lost her life as the day she discovered her true strength-her Unbreakable Day. In this unique memoir, equal parts heart wrenching and inspiring, Naseem lays bare the reality of personal trauma-and how we each have the power to reimagine our lives and find beauty in being both broken and unbreakable.
An idyllic day in the life of “professional powerhouse and supermom” Rochette is shattered when a distracted driver nearly kills her in a suburban crosswalk, a nightmare experience that catalyzes this inspirational memoir debut. Her survival is miraculous but leaves her grappling with uncomfortable questions. Was she “saved for a reason?” Is it “selfish” to receive help when she’s “already so lucky?” Rochette explains her hyper-vigilance against being needy: “I was raised on self-sufficiency and independence, on the American dream of blood, sweat, and bootstrapping.” As she comes to grips with her serious physical injuries, PTSD, and Traumatic Brain Injury, Rochette sees a dark side to this extreme “mentality of self-sufficiency” for the first time, beginning with the devastating realization that, for her, “dying under a car would have been much easier…than surviving with grace.”

Rochette’s friends, family, and even hairstylist often model the grace she’s so eager to find. With an open, conversational style that pulls no punches, Rochette creates an intimate portrait of her recovery from trauma, and how she made peace between her faith in “bootstrapping” and the very real limitations she was left with after the accident. Though the insights in the book’s closing section (cheekily titled “My Sermon”), are familiar truisms, i.e. “be vulnerable,” “love big,” and “say sorry,” they are nevertheless hard-earned and inarguable wisdom from a survivor eager to “pay it forward.”

Following her therapist’s suggestion, “you can try to hide your cracks, or you can celebrate them for how they make you beautiful,” allows Rochette to reframe the accident as her “Unbreakable Day,” and to understand vulnerability not as a character flaw, but as “the other side of mental toughness.” Her story is rich with unforgettable details, her candor is remarkable, and her gentle humor eases tension in all but the darkest moments.

Takeaway: A survivor’s inspirational lessons in refusing perfectionism and redefining strength.

Comparable Titles: Allison Pataki’s Beauty in the Broken Places, Céline Santini’s Kintsugi: Finding Strength in Imperfection.

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