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My Book Recommendation

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A memoir of healing from trauma and addiction from a well-known West Coast political figure.

In 2017, Davis, then the wife of former California attorney general and treasurer Bill Lockyer, was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse; she eventually was ordered by a judge to attend 180 days of mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She was a famous figure in local politics; she’d resigned from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 2012, after she revealed her struggles with addiction to alcohol and narcotics, so the arrest attracted media interest. Here, she takes to pen and paper to reclaim her story in her own words. Davis, the daughter of a renowned civil rights attorney, earned a number of accolades and held multiple offices, including president of the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Trustees, before marrying Lockyer. Davis’ struggles with addiction became fodder for scandal-hungry local news outlets, she says, and she fell victim to media shaming. With admirable candor, she shares a story of resilience, delving into childhood and adult traumas, including a nearly fatal car accident and difficulties involving a stalker, and tells how she worked to overcome intense feelings of “shame, fear, and resentment.” Davis is an open and unwavering narrator who presents readers with explicit descriptions of sexual assault, eating disorders, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. The work touches on issues of privacy, motherhood, injustice, and mental health, including important criticisms of how addiction is criminalized and misunderstood. However, with such a wide range of topics, the narrative can sometimes feel unfocused. It’s written in the form of letters to her sons, which is a wonderfully evocative choice, but the missives become sidetracked in winding asides. Diary entries, notes, and letters-within-letters are scattered throughout most chapters, and it can feel as if the author had momentarily forgotten that the book is intended to address her children directly. Also, in one of the memoir’s most emotionally charged moments, she includes what appear to be unattributed lyrics from a Disney-film song(“Know Who You Are” from 2016’s Moana).

A remembrance with a powerful message about strength and recovery, hampered by awkward execution.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1087994413

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Page Count: 354

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2021

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