BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Leaving Isn’t The Hardest Thing’ Essays by Lauren Hough

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.

‘Leaving Isn’t The Hardest Thing’ Essays by Lauren Hough

These brilliant and brutal essays are written from the anger and despair of a cult background. The author was brought up in Children of God, later known as “The Family,” headed up by the stereotypical monster who sexually preyed on children and young women.

After leaving, Lauren was barely able to subsist and drift until she landed in the Air Force, the proverbial frying pan from the fire. Here, as a lesbian, she had her car torched and her life continually threatened until the self-reported under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and received an honorable discharge.

For some reason, maybe the skill of the writer, her story remains striving and hopeful as she cycles through ongoing searches for family to replace the two she left, and finds it mostly while bartending, where the back of the house workers are mostly misfits also, and also in a 10-year stint as a cable TV service technician.

How Lauren became a whole person again, a warrior against hypocrisy, and a fine writer under these circumstances is fairly miraculous and a riveting adventure for the reader.

Quote: “It may not be as visible a mark on your class as bad teeth, but a history of violence being acted on you by those you love is just as effective at keeping you from climbing too high.”

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