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Thursday, May 21, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, the bookish site that's not afraid to get REAL every now and then.  Speaking of which...
Today, we are joining the iRead Book Tour already in progress for a NON-FICTION title that really reminds us that while our parents/guardians are suppose to be the ones with all the answers, they're human and can sometimes fall short too.  The sad part is when they do, the fall for those in their care can be pretty dramatic and the experience can either make or break them.  The good part is that if the former "make" happens versus the latter, they are a more improved version of themselves than previously planned with far reaching intentions set to make the world a better place for all those they touch.  Without further ado, today's book of choice and blog tour guest is...

Heather Siegel
Greenpoint Press

 About the book...
Heather Siegel was six years old when her mother disappeared, sending her father into a tailspin that took Heather and her siblings down with him - from a comfortable suburban home to a barely habitable basement apartment, a dark world they soon found themselves fighting to return from the exile of foster care, then fighting even harder to escape.  Forty years later, Heather Siegel tells the remarkable story of how she and her siblings, Jaz and Greg, banded together to find out what happened to their mother and fight their way Out from the Underworld with nothing but their wits, determination, unbreakable bonds, and gifts for humor and compassion to sustain them.


I almost always preface my review of a Biography/Memoir with something about me not judging the story itself but the delivery style and sharing my thoughts/reactions to what I read.  That being said, I won't dwell on the point, but consider it  Now, on to that story...

This recollection of thoughts and memories takes us from the author's childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.  She and her siblings survived much more than a broken home.  From the moment her mother made a seemingly selfish decision ("seemingly" only because of what we learn about her later on), it was almost all downhill from there.  From a self-imploding father unable to step out of his own shadow to care for those in his charge to a parade of women that would each leave their mark (for better or worse) on their young lives, the eventual realization reached was that no matter how much they wished, hoped, and dreamed that their remaining parent would rise above to save them like a phoenix from the ashes, it simply was not in their cards.  So, the had to make their own luck and reach towards a happier ending.

It was so hard to watch this little family within a family be broken up again and again with atrocities committed against them that none should have to bear.  It was inspiring to see how they pulled together to take care of each other while still reaching out to try and rescue the lost parent that still lived.  Jaz may have been a hardcore-kick-butt-and-apologize-later type of girl, but deep down she was the "mother" between them, always guiding, sharing, and her own way.  Greg, their brother, was a gentle spirit, and carried that kindness with him despite the tortures others inflicted upon him.  As for Heather, she's more than simply our narrator or a victim of circumstance, she's a survivor, and considering where she came from any sort of normalcy achieved would be a celebratory point.  So, settle for what she could get?  Nope!  She shot for the stars and while fame and fortune may not have been the end result, a life in the sun, with loved ones to cherish, and even a chance to make amends with her father, are definitely not something to shrink from.

In conclusion, an honest share of a life that was much more thorns than roses but with an ending that opened more doors than it closed, for the better.  It's been said you never know what you're capable of until put to the test.  Well, when their feet were to the fire, they didn't shirk away.  They kept looking for that brighter tomorrow even when all felt lost.  The word that comes to mind to describe them is Hawaiian it simply means family, but as a little blue animated critter once added, it also means nobody gets left behind.  Case in point.  Recommended read for older teens through adults for some language as well as general interest in the subject matter.

About the author...

 Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from The New School. Her work has appeared on and in The Mother Magazine and Author Magazine, as well as in various trade publications. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012 Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore Press First Book Award. A multi-creative person with interests in the arts, nutrition, health and beauty, she has founded several independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long Island in a house filled with light. 



Special thanks to Laura at iRead Books and author Heather Siegel for the review copy as well as the chance to bring this tour to you.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, the publisher, or the other fabulous stops on the tour, please feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title is available now via Greenpoint Press, a division of New York Writers Resources, New York, NY, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.


Until next time...happy reading!


Felicity Grace Terry said...

Sounds like this could be a bitter-sweet read that may require the use of tissues.

Heather Siegel said...

Hi Gina,
Thank you so much for your generous and insightful review. I appreciate your take on the characters-- yes, Jaz was, and in some ways still is, the mom. And yes, it would have been success to just land in the sunlight. I'm thankful to have stumbled upon some great authors who paved another way out.

I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. And great blog you have going here! Love it!

Heather Siegel said...

Hi Gina,
I wrote a response to your review. It's on my blog, and cut and pasted here:

May 22, 2015
Heather Siegel

I made my way over to "Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers" yesterday to find an insightful review of Out from the Underworld. Gina, the "chef" who "feeds the need to read" made some astute comments about some of the characters in the book. It's a great feeling as a writer when you intentionally set out to create a character portrait and a reader gets the exact hit you intended.

Gina also brought up the concept of Ohana, a Hawaiin word that means family, blood or otherwise. The concept revolves around the idea of working together in cooperation and remembering to be thoughful and mindful of each other. I was lucky-and still am-- to have Ohana with my siblings, even when we were separated. But the lack of Ohana with the biological adults around me I think is what really upsets readers... and maybe even moves my story into the genre of absurd childhoods.

We had Jewish grandparents, for starters. But in our case the stereotype of a doting--or perhaps even smothering--Bubbie and Zayda-- were nonexistent. Will and Jeanette Fine did not intervene and stop us from going into foster care, let alone invite us upstairs on the every other weekends for Friday night Shabbat dinner (I can still smell that scent of delicious chicken soup with fresh dill wafting down the stairs..). And as an adult I can only speculate why.

Survivors of the depression, and two tough childhoods in the Jewish tenements of New York-- as well as part of their adulthood before they took a chance and moved to the suburbs of Long Island, the world was a dog eat dog place for them, where they had learned, from their own Ohana-less childhoods, that no one is going to watch your back, so you have to watch out for numero uno, scrape for what you need, and push people out of the way when necessary.

Needless to say, they did not belong to any charities.

My teenage self in the book wished desperately that my grandparents would have denied my father a place to live in their basement. I had started to understand that their denial would force him-- a middle class funeral director who actually earned middle class wages-- to get an apartment above ground where things would have felt less dark and bleak, not the least of which would be his mindset.

But maybe my grandparents thought they were being benelvolent by letting him stay there. It was their version of Ohana. The best they could do.

People often ask me how I can find love and compassion for particular characters in the book-- like my grandparents. My answer is that you can't fault someone if they are incapable of giving you what you need. Especially people who have empty Ohana accounts.

Read Insatiable Reader's review here:!Ohana/c14tw/555f2d950cf298b2d3d7a2c7

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