Snyder was eight years old when her mother died, and her distraught father thrust the family into an evangelical, cult-like existence halfway across the country. Furiously rebellious, she was expelled from school and home at age 16. Living out of her car and relying on strangers, Rachel found herself masquerading as an adult, talking her way into college, and eventually travelling the globe. Survival became her reporter's beat. In places like India, Tibet, and Niger, she interviewed those who had been through the unimaginable. In Cambodia, where she lived for six years, she watched a country reckon with the horrors of its own recent history. When she returned to the States with a family of her own, it was with a new perspective on old family wounds, and a chance for healing from the most unexpected place.
Absorbing ... nlike many memoirists, she seems completely uninterested in self-mythologizing or reveling in her specialness. Though her childhood is unusually arduous, her writing is stripped of self-pity ... Snyder’s harrowing descriptions of her childhood...are precise, controlled, well-wrought ... Her restraint and pared-down prose allow the reader to enter the scene, to see, in a way that more obtrusive narration would not ... Snyder brings a journalist’s eye to her own past, applying balance and precision to intimate family scenes, which is incredibly difficult to do.
This is in many ways an inspirational book, but I wouldn’t call it a comforting one. Snyder would never succumb to the pretty idea that suffering makes a person stronger. What she does describe — vividly and powerfully — is how, instead of responding to relentless hardship by building a protective carapace against the world, she was determined to open herself up to possibility ... Her memoir is bookended by death — and also by life, since Snyder observes the world with both an unsparing eye and a generous spirit ... All of this is hard to reconcile, but Snyder’s memoir shows how one might — must — live amid multiple truths.
Snyder's memoir is as heartbreaking, wrenching and compelling as the stories of the victims in her eye-opening book on domestic violence ... The violence and neglect of her adolescence sounds nearly unsurvivable. And yet she is here, proof that there can be healing, reconciliation and professional triumph. It's my hope that the foreboding title won't keep readers away from Snyder's remarkable book.