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Joan Copeland
Author
Twelve Sweetpotatoes: Escaping from a Carolina Soap Opera

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Twelve Sweetpotatoes is an Americana reflection of the author’s life on her mother’s hardscrabble tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina in the mid-60s. The reader joins the author as she tells her stories along her ultimate path to healing from life-shaping family alcoholism, mental illness, loss, and suffering. It is a dark story and an inspirational book for anyone wishing to change their life from the drama and chaos of dysfunction to a life of peace and, perhaps, joy. “I realized that I had to own my childhood and not try to hide in the darkness. I don’t have to be ashamed of my beginnings. I am not my drunken father or my crazy brother, or my suffering mother. I don’t have to pretend that I came from some wealthy gentleman’s Southern plantation. I was raised in a poor Southern family riddled with violence. I chose to live my life differently. I am no longer living with poverty and violence. I live in peace and joy instead. I am who I am, though, because of those beginnings, those experiences, those people.”
Reviews
Amazon

A tribute to love, courage and rising from the ashes

Twelve Sweet Potatoes is a marvelous testament to the healing that is possible when one faces a challenging life history with courage and commitment. Joan Barnes Copeland opens a vein to tell this remarkable tale of her stormy, hardscrabble and tragic southern childhood in the mid-twentieth century. Inspiringly, she also allows the reader into the long, often-agonizing process of revealing and untangling the harsh experiences that made her who she became; fierce, determined, capable, and ultimately, thriving. Her story of forgiveness, acceptance, and "detachment with love" should serve as an inspiration to those reluctant to face the demons of their past. As a writer, Ms. Barnes Copeland narrates her childhood and adulthood with fresh clarity and a storyteller's gift. You'll want to both savor and devour this book.

BK Johnson

Amazon

A compelling account of survival and catharsis.

A soul-baring book. The artful intertwining of the author’s journal writings with other artifacts and her narrative move the reader forward almost breathlessly. Knowing that this author not only survived a world of alcoholism and abuse but went on to become a devoted mother, a loving wife, a leader in the business world, and a joyful, independent woman provides inspiration for anyone who at any time might feel that their dysfunctional world is inescapable.

saharrison

Reedsy Discovery

Worth reading 😎

Twelve Sweetpotatoes: Escaping from a Carolina Soap Opera, by Joan Barnes Copeland is a bold and honest family and self-help memoir.

In Twelve Sweetpotatoes: Escaping from a Carolina Soap Opera, the author Joan Barnes Copeland bares her soul in this bold family memoir of hers. She outlines her journey from her chaotic childhood in Eastern North Carolina of the 1960s to her seemingly normal adult life of marriage, work and kids. By outlining her history, Copeland unpacks the dysfunctional elements of her childhood home and family and the impact it had on her and how it shaped her as a person and her personality traits. Within this narrative, Copeland also intersperses her growth and understanding of herself through her therapy and how it revealed to her the impacts from her childhood and her relationships with her family members.

The memoir is replete with unique anecdotes, such as her and her family's involvement in growing tobacco on their tobacco farm that her mother penny pinched and eventually bought for their family or her own experiences at University of North Carolina at Greensboro that opened up a different world to her and let her soak in myriad perspectives too, which vastly varied from her own upbringing and environs.

Having recently read Alison Bechdel's tragicomic graphic family memoir, Fun Home, I couldn't help compare the two and there were quite a few similarities in terms of the events of their lives and the style in which both the books are written. Twelve Sweetpotatoes: Escaping from a Carolina Soap Opera is no Fun Home but it was interesting to see how Copeland wove in varying timelines and aimed at a more non-linear plot too. Copeland sometimes delves into her past and then at times moves into her present moment or even looks back at her therapy sessions and it is engaging for the reader to try and build these different parts of her story together. The weaving in of photographs, news reports and memoirs written by her mother and Copeland's own diary or Facebook entries layer the narrative like a jigsaw puzzle one has to unravel. The style also mimics Copeland's own unravelling of herself as she learns to comprehend her own true self and let go of childhood and other baggage.

Though a tad bit descriptive in places with a touch of preachy, Twelve Sweetpotatoes: Escaping from a Carolina Soap Opera is still a a raw piece of writing that allows both the author and the reader to come to terms with the past, with who we are as individuals, to make peace with the ups and downs of life, who remains and who shapes our lives as well as with asking for help in terms of therapy or otherwise. :)

Aakanksha Singh

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