4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Christian · memoir · non fiction

Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer by Harmony Dust

 

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Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer by Harmony Dust

Published: May 1, 2018 

Publisher: Monarch Books

Pages: 231

Genres: memoir, non fiction, Christian

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: inspiring memoirs, Christianity helping people, sex industry workers looking for support/to get out of the life

Read with food: anything you find delicious and nourishing because you deserve to enjoy life in a healthy way

 

Synopsis:

At thirteen, after being abandoned by her mother one summer and left to take care of her younger brother, Harmony becomes susceptible to a relationship that turns out to be toxic, abusive, and ultimately exploitative. She eventually finds herself working in a strip club at the age of nineteen, and her boyfriend becomes her pimp, controlling her every move and taking all of her money.

Scars and Stilettos is Harmony’s stark, honest, and ultimately hopeful story of how God found her in that dark, noisy place, led her back out, and prompted her to help others who are trapped as she once was. It exposes the realities of the commercial sex industry and inspires hope that freedom and healing are possible for those involved. Harmony has since graduated magna cum laude from UCLA where she also completed an MA in Social Welfare, and now leads Treasures, an outreach and support group to women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking. Through the Treasures Trainings, she has provided training to help launch outreaches in over 120 cities on six continents.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for the copy. As always, an honest review.

If you’re like me you’ll walk away from Scars and Stilettos inspired, a little ad, and wanting to tell everyone you know about Harmony’s story. She grew up in a very unstable and abusive home. She learned at a young age that her worth depended on other people’s opinions of her Boyd. Eventually she got into stripping to support herself and her pimp boyfriend.

I appreciated Harmony’s honest. She didn’t sugarcoat her life, nor did she give such graphic details purely for shock value. I found it interesting to learn why someone might get into the sex work industry, her life outside of her career, and what she really wanted for herself. Turns out, she was incredibly unhappy with her career and many other aspects of her life. The inspirational part begins when she starts going to church and slowly building her self esteem. The writing was inspiring, showing how her positive choices and help from others in her life led her to where she is today. Harmony now runs Treasures, a non profit outreach group for women in the sex work industry and victims of sex trafficking. I honestly can’t say enough great things about this memoir.

There are very few criticisms of Scars and Stilettos, except that I wish there was more about her transition after quitting stripping. The book seemed to skip over some of that.

Overall, an inspiring story that can help a lot of people.

 

 

About Treasures:

Our mission is to reach, restore, and equip women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking to live healthy, flourishing lives, and train others to do the same across the globe.

 

  • If you’ve been inspired by Harmony’s book and want more information about her organization, check out her website for the non profit Treasures

 

  • For a list of ways to get involved in a big or small way click here

 

  • Treasures even has an Amazon Wish List that makes it super easy to to help purchase items the organization needs to help so many women 

 

2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: Don’t You Ever: My Mothers and Her Secret Son by Mary Carter Bishop

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Don’t You Ever: My Mothers and Her Secret Son by Mary Carter Bishop 

Published by Harper on July 3, 2018 

Pages: 256 

Genres: memoir, non fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: unique memoirs, stories about unfair childhoods

Read with food: fried chicken and ice cream … perfect for siblings catching up after years apart

 

Synopsis:

From a prizewinning journalist, Mary Carter Bishop, a moving and beautifully rendered memoir about the half-brother she didn’t know existed that hauntingly explores family, class, secrets, and fate.

Applying for a passport as an adult, Mary Carter Bishop made a shocking discovery. She had a secret half-brother. Her mother, a farm manager’s wife on a country estate, told Mary Carter the abandoned boy was a youthful “mistake” from an encounter with a married man. There’d been a home for unwed mothers; foster parents; an orphanage.

Nine years later, Mary Carter tracked Ronnie down at the barbershop where he worked, and found a near-broken man—someone kind, and happy to meet her, but someone also deeply and irreversibly damaged by a life of neglect and abuse at the hands of an uncaring system. He was also disfigured because of a rare medical condition that would eventually kill him, three years after their reunion. During that window, Mary Carter grew close to Ronnie, and as she learned more about him she became consumed by his story. How had Ronnie’s life gone so wrong when hers had gone so well? How could she reconcile the doting, generous mother she knew with a woman who could not bring herself to acknowledge her own son?

Digging deep into her family’s lives for understanding, Mary Carter unfolds a sweeping story of religious intolerance, poverty, fear, ambition, class, and social expectations. Don’t You Ever is a modern Dickensian tale about a child seemingly cursed from birth; a woman shattered by guilt; a husband plagued by self-doubt; a prodigal daughter whose innocence was cruelly snatched away—all living in genteel central Virginia, a world defined by extremes of rural poverty and fabulous wealth.

A riveting memoir about a family haunted by a shameful secret, Don’t You Ever is a powerful story of a woman’s search for her long-hidden sibling, and the factors that profoundly impact our individual destinies. 

Review: 

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Don’t You Ever, but overall I finished the book feeling quite neutral and unengaged about it all. The author tells the story of her simple but well loved life compared to her brother’s much more difficult upbringing. He was treated much differently by his parents and society. Mary Carter was even told that he was her cousin, not brother, which is incredibly telling.

Eventually the author learns of her brother and reunites with him. He’s had a difficult adulthood as well, with multiple health problems. Mary Carter and Ronnie learn about each other. During this process she uncovers many of the reasons for her family’s actions. Emotions such as fear, guilty, shame and self doubt drove their actions.

Don’t You Ever speaks to the time and place in which these people grew up. Through her family we learn a lot, but I still didn’t connect with them. I felt myself reading the pages just to finish the book. It’s not a bad book, but I mainly felt indifferent to the story.

Maybe other readers will connect more to the characters and story.