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Friday, May 29, 2015

A Book Review of: Hope: a memoir of survival in Cleveland: Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan

Disclaimer: This is a book review by Recreational Therapist Danny Pettry. If you suffer from a health condition, you should never use Rec. Therapy Today blog and newsletter entries instead of professional medical advice. Please seek a professional evaluation for treatment. For practitioners (recreational therapists, counselors, healers), many of the suggestions at this blog could be used in medical treatment under the recommendation and supervision of attending physician.

 Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus (two of the three girls who were kidnapped in Cleveland).
It was written with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan.
Published: 2015, Viking, Penguin Publishing Group, Penguin Random House.

I work at a residential treatment facility where I provide services for children ages 7 to 12 who have suffered trauma. (physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, severe neglect, or domestic violence or have witnessed a disaster).

I read books on trauma to learn more about resiliency and to build more empathy for those who I provide services for.  In the past, I’ve read books about those who have survived and escaped, like

I’ve also read Jessica Lynch (who was rescued in Iraqi freedom operation).


About the book: Hope:

Amanda Berry had been kidnapped by A. Castro in Cleveland on her way walking home from her shift at Burger King. He raped her and held her captive for ten years. There was another woman who was already being held captive there (Michelle Knight). However, she was not part of this book. Later, A. Castro kidnapped a third victim, Gina DeJesus.

Amanda became pregnant and had his child, Jocylyn (Joci)

The three women were raped often. They were chained to radiators and locked in their bedrooms (with boarded windows) or in the basement. They suffered emotional abuse (being called names and having put-downs). They were physically abused beaten.

Finally, one day, Castro let his guard down and didn’t chain Amanda or lock her in her room. Her daughter Joci told Amanda that her dad was gone. Amanda sneaked downstairs, knowing if caught she could be beaten and tortured. She discovered Castro was gone and then realized the front door had another padlock. She was able to yell for help and beat down the door and got out and rescued.


My Thoughts and Feelings:

I think it is awful what these girls have experienced. I think Amanda was very brave to do what she did (to escape). Amanda new her mother had passed away from the news. She said she felt her mother pushing her to go and escape.


I thought it was awful when Amanda reported that one woman (who was older) outside didn’t believe Amanda was Amanda and didn’t help. It sounded like the woman was shaming Amanda. I felt real irritated at that.

I thought many times during this book: why does this have to happen?


More Feelings:

I felt a mix of emotions reading the book.  It was an emotional roller-coaster ride of empathy. Of course, I’ll never truly know what Amanda, Gina, and Michelle felt and experienced.
I know I felt extreme sadness during the book. Feelings of excitement, delight, and hope filled my heart when Amanda went for the move to escape. I’m so glad she did.


My Hopes:

I hope we are able to find more missing people.
I hope we can find ways to help stop these things from happening.


My Plans:

I am trained as a recreational therapist and a mental health counselor. I’m currently a provisionally licensed counselor and working towards obtaining a full license to practice counseling. Counselors work with all age groups and for people with a variety of needs. I’ve worked with children who have been abused since 2002. I plan to continue working with this population and continuing advancing my training to be the best service provider I can be. I find this to be meaningful work.

Naturally, I want to be an advocate for people who have suffered traumas, abuse, or other major problems. I plan to help teach safety skills to children and teens. I plan to encourage children in my family to have cell-phones handy so they can contact someone in case of an emergency.

Who might benefit from reading this:

Some therapists may consider using this book as a biblio-therapy technique to help teens or adults who have suffered trauma and abuse.

Some therapists who teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills may want to have teens or adults to read this book as a comparisons tool. One DBT technique is to compare yourself to others who are in worse off situations. I can’t imagine many people who have experienced worse than these girls and yet, here they are, bright as ever today and resilient.
Jordan, M, and Sullivan, K. with Amanda Berry and Gina Dejesus. (2015). Hope: a memoir of survival in Cleveland. Viking: Penguin Publishing Group, Penguin Random House: New York, NY.


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