The S Word

BookSparks TRUTH OR DARE Blog Tour!

The S Word: a memoir by Paolina Milana. CA: She Writes Press, 2015. 231p. Reading Group Guide. ****

"If you are not willing to commit to being at Mass next Sunday. I cannot absolve you of your sins. The little screen to salvation slid shut." Paolina had finally summoned enough courage to seek absolution from the confessional, only to be turned away because she had to work on Sunday mornings. Obtaining her first job at the age of thirteen by altering her birth certificate, Paolina did what she could to help Papa pay the bills. Raised in a Sicilian Catholic family, she learns early to hold her secrets close of Mamma's schizophrenia; seduction-turned-rape, lack of money and Mamma's violent outbursts. Trying to shield her siblings from her Mamma's wrath and stay her Papa's favorite takes its toll and limits her future opportunities. 

Paolina paints a powerful story of a tight-knit family with many painful secrets that limit the ability to seek help. She exhibits strength in the face of adults who do not see or hear her, from her Papa who is dealing with his own issues; teachers who ignore her hygiene, bruises and signs of neglect to a guidance counselor who can't understand why she won't consider going to a college in another state. 

What could be a grim, hopeless story, it is one filled with love of her family, self-survival and triumph over circumstances. Paolina doesn't flinch when telling her story and her voice drew me right in and kept me there until the end. I would love to meet her and get an update on her and her siblings, I feel as if I know her and respect and admire her resilience. I definitely recommend this book as a serious read and I am so glad I signed up for the BookSparks Truth or Dare Blog Tour. 

Paolina Milana is first-generation Sicilian, born and raised in Chicago and currently living on the edge of the Angeles National Forest in California. A writer all her life, she earns her living with words. She blogs at PaolinaMilana.com and welcomes the opportunity to share her stories with interested audiences. 

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