My Book World
As the subtitle suggests, Perry and Winfrey exchange ideas concerning childhood trauma. Her words are represented by a pale blue font, and his are in black, making the dialogue more obvious. I’ve read other books about how childhood trauma affects adults in later life, if the trauma is not dealt with in a satisfactory way. I know from my own life that this is true. But this book takes my understanding a bit farther. I now come to realize that the child is both vulnerable to trauma but, under the right circumstances (therapeutic), also resilient.
Dr. Perry’s expertise in neuroscience helps expand our understanding of how the brain works. Therapy can help a traumatized child or adult, but the therapist must meet the child at his or her level of brain development. Perry tells the story of one boy whose brain is still functioning at the brainstem level, but he’s older than that chronologically. Oprah courageously shares with readers her lifelong struggle to come to terms with abuse she suffered as a young child. Both writers brought me to tears at several times throughout the book. Oprah tells a story of when she is on a movie set, and the director shoots a scene in which she must tuck in a child at night. They must do the take several times, because Oprah keeps going at the situation as if she’s making the bed. The director must finally demonstrate what he means, and Oprah realizes no one ever tucked her in as a child. She had no idea how to do it.
The book’s closure involves Oprah sharing with readers how she finally forgives her mother and also resolves other issues on the woman’s deathbed. We all feel the sense of relief and catharsis that Winfrey feels. She had actually been on her way back to California, when she realized she must return to her mother and end things properly. A real act of courage, which, in reading this book, may help others to do the same. When we stop asking “What’s wrong with you?” and instead ask, “What happened to you?” we, as a society, may be in a better position to help our children and adult children to cope with their lives. I don’t say this often: a must read.
NEXT FRIDAY: My Book World | Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt--An Oprah Book Club Recipient