In the past few weeks, I have had my head deep into the work of finalizing my client Charlene Moses’ book, and I’m excited to say it should be out before February, and Charlene’s birthday on the second day of the month. Her memoir, Given to Submission: A journey of shame, truth, and forgiveness, is certainly a gift—one Charlene gave to herself, and one her readers will enjoy opening, too.
Charlene grew up in both Massachusetts and Maine, as her parents were restless and moved frequently. Lonely and shy because she didn’t speak English in an English-speaking school, and insecure because her parents were as rigid as her Catholic upbringing, Charlene had a rugged childhood that also included several specific traumas.
After an impulsive, and brief, first marriage, Charlene entered the United States Marines as a private. She was browbeaten by superiors and placed in an impossible situation. Her lack of self-esteem led her to make a decision she deeply regrets to this day. Given to Submission tells the story of the early part of Charlene’s life and how it led to the action she took in the military, for which she seeks forgiveness.
The book is the story of a young woman butting her head against the odds as well as an apology. Charlene hopes reading it will help to empower others.
I think Given to Submission will appeal to a wide audience. It will draw in adult readers and keep them turning pages to learn how Charlene’s troubled life unfolded. It will also grab the interest of young adults who are experiencing both the ordinary strains of growing up as well as more daunting traumas that come with relocation, alcohol use and abuse, and the death of loved ones.
I believe readers will relate to Charlene and will have compassion for her as well. I hope that the story reaches many, but in particular, I hope it finds its way into the hands of her military colleagues, and that, if it does, they have compassion and forgiveness.
Just as I have worked over the past six months to refine and polish my own memoir, I have worked to bring Charlene’s tale into sharper focus.
Charlene was not a writer before she sat herself down last April, acting from her heart to put the events down on paper, yet the images she called forth to show, and not just tell, what happened to her, were perfectly illuminating. They tell her story.
Because her first language is French, Charlene needed help with sentence structure and with adding in details that help make her world clearer to those who didn’t experience it. I encouraged her to weave in specific details to help readers see her neighborhood in Holyoke, Massachusetts, for instance.
More importantly, though, I also gently pressed Charlene to close her eyes, transport herself in time, and recall how she felt at some pivotal times. Very boldly, Charlene made revisions that are raw, honest, and real.
Last week, I finished designing the book, and it should go to print soon. It is now available in my shop. Also consider sharing this blog with readers you know who enjoy memoirs and with young people in your life—particularly young women—who could use a strong female role model.
Charlene has a strong spirit and a tender heart. There is much to be learned from her about morality, perseverance, and personal growth.