Nikki Dubose: Washed Away

Trigger Warning:  eating disorders, rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse, addiction, self harm, mental illness, obsessive behavior

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.

Her journey began as a young, introverted child with a florid imagination growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. By the age of eight she had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and had developed an eating disorder. The abuse warped Nikki’s self-perception and sparked patterns of psychosis, depression and destructive behavior that stayed with her into adulthood. In her early twenties she began working as a television host and started a career in modeling. Eventually Nikki attained success, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Maxim, shooting for editorials like Vanity Fair, Glamour and FHM, and appearing in campaigns for Perry Ellis.

Cast into a world of excess, superficiality, and vanity, Nikki traveled the globe and experienced the finest that the material world had to offer, all while feeling empty inside. Her disorders, addictions and mental health issues took her to the brink of mortality and only through a deeply painful inner-battle and her mother’s death was she able to reconnect the lost pieces of her soul and see the person she had so long rejected.

Her recovery from a nearly lifelong struggle with PTSD, psychosis, addictions and eating disorders has left Nikki with a passionate longing to help others who are also suffering by advocating for mental health and self-acceptance. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light will serve as a testimony to others to let them know that they are not alone in their fears, doubts, and frustrations, and that through recovery all things are possible.

 

Remember back when I read Lady Injury, when I told you that I liked a book…but then warned you not to read it? That’s exactly how I feel about Washed Away. In fact, the books are as similar as they are different, just as the two women are. Both books are about eating disorders and extremely severe mental illness. Both books are horrifically triggering and devastating. But, just as no two people are the same, no two mental illnesses are the same–and thus, no two memoirs could be the same either.

Washed Away is the story of two women, actually–not just Nikki herself, but also her mother. Nikki’s story illustrates just how strong the ties of mental illness can be–both nature and nurture. Her life was basically just a boulder rolling down a mountain–there was no way to stop it until the very bottom–and that boulder crushed everything in its path.

And Nikki was crushed by everything imaginable. I don’t often put a trigger warning at the beginning of my reviews, but it was necessary for this one. It is so easy to feel hopeless while reading a book like this because there seemingly is no end to the tragedy that this woman went through in her life. But she found her way out. I cannot imagine how impossible recovery seemed, but her epilogue was full of all the hope that was missing in the rest of the pages. It’s worth reading the rest just for that.

If you are looking for a story about someone who got out, someone who fought through bulimia and mental illness and came out on the other side–maybe look at Nikki’s book. Just be aware that this is a very triggering story, so take care.

I received a copy of this book from Book Publicity Services for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

Chris Cleave has written the most unromantic WWII romance ever in the history of WWII romances.

That’s a compliment by the way.

The Goodreads’ summary above makes it seem all about the love triangle (which really doesn’t exist, by the way…not in the way we think of love triangles), but Cleave dives deep into so many social norms of 1930s-40s that most books of this nature don’t bother to look at.

The author uses historical prejudicial words throughout his narrative. Words like the n-word, mongol, retarded. Words that today are incredibly offensive, but in the 30’s were ordinary in context. But those prejudices are exactly the point Cleave is trying to make. He focuses heavily on the fact that healthy white children were rushed out to the countryside while blacks and mentally-ill children were mostly left to fend for themselves.

We also get an incredible portrayal of PTSD (or shell-shock, as it was known then), from multiple characters–and not just those fighting on the front. We see drug addiction, depression, suicide–and all the horrible stigma that went along with it.

Chris Cleave kicks off #MentalHealthMonth with a beautiful, historical not-so-romantic romance that bears the ugly truth about WWII. Everyone Brave is Forgiven comes out tomorrow, May 3, and while it is brave, it certainly does not need forgiveness.

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NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Releases May 3.

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Liar

I.

Am.

Shaking.

My goodness, was I even paying attention when I requested NetGalley ARCs for February? Two intensely emotional books due out on the same day?! What was I even THINKING?!

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Liar might be the most painful book I read all year, and it’s only the second month. Just…whoa. I don’t like trigger warning-ing (?) things unless they really merit them, but the publisher should just stamp TW in big red letters all over the cover. Guys, this book is no joke. Handle with care.

In his memoir Liar, Rob Roberge paints an extremely vivid picture of bipolar disorder and addiction. He uses the pronoun YOU, instead of writing in first or third person, to really get under the reader’s skin. You feel every single psychotic episode, every concussion, every cut, every manic moment. Also pay close attention to the dates. Every paragraph or section changes, further increasing the mania. One moment you might be in 1997, then 1912 rescuing dogs from the Titanic wreckage, then 2008, then 1972. This all happens within 2 pages. There are also subtle arrows pointing at famous suicides, and not so famous suicides, references to CTE, people with seizures, and drug addiction–all things point back to Rob’s all consuming disorder.

And it is disorder. This book held me in my own mania, and I’m serious when I tell you that this book is triggering. If you read it, find a way to cope with it. For me, it meant having my Invasive Thoughts Journal nearby, so I could purge those thoughts that were actually Rob from my mind.

I suppose this review comes off as negative, to anyone who doesn’t know how much I love getting inside people’s brains, but Liar is a work of shattered genius, and one I didn’t want to end for the sole purpose to keep Rob alive. Because to keep writing, he had to keep living, right? Let’s hope that Rob Roberge has several more books to go.

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NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Also received book copy in Goodreads contest. Releases February 9. 

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The Goldfinch

I have been absorbed this weekend, the last weekend before things really get moving. We leave for our three day Dallas trip on Tuesday…and I’ve been curled up on my couch, eyes glued to The Goldfinch. Oops. Such is my life. Hey, I did get the laundry through the wash, so I can pack this afternoon!

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Donna Tartt’s novel is a meaty one. 771 pages, full of some serious themes. You wouldn’t think by looking at the fairly bland cover–just a simple pretty bird hiding in a torn white foreground–but this is a book full of drug addiction and depression. It is not an easy book to get through. The basis of the story is a bomb attack on a museum, and a boy caught in the crossfire. An important piece of art goes missing at the same time, and his world crumbles with the building.

Theo is the type of person you normally think of on the outskirts of a social circle, at least in my mind. The sketchy, scrawny one, that so often fades in the background. He’s always around but everyone tends to forget his tragedies until it’s too late. His best friends are always the popular kids, the rich kids, and often, the brawny protectors. Someone he can cling to. But eventually, there’s always a point where he drops off the cliff, and his rock bottom.

This is one of those stories.

If depression and addiction are triggers for you, don’t read this. There’s also some gun violence towards the end.

This book consumed me. Tartt draws you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go. The relationships are perfect, although I was convinced at one point that Theo was homosexual–so intense was his connection with Boris. I loved their friendship, rocky as it was at the end. And Hobie. Hobie was such a beautiful “dad” to Theo. I wanted to kiss him at several points of the story for being so wonderful.

Read this. Read this. Read this.