This is the story of a girl named Lizzie who struggles with the people around her. Her birth mother abandons her. Her adoptive mother beats her and tortures her mentally and physically. She runs away to find her birth mother, who promptly sells her as a sex toy to the highest bidder. She is abused by foster fathers. Throughout her life, the very people who were to take care of her and show her love are the very people who betray her. She goes through several abusive relationships until she finds spiritual healing, self-love, and peace. Eventually, she escapes the cycle of abuse and finds her true love.
When I received this book, House on a Swing, I didn’t have any expectations of identifying with the main character – well, and when I say character, I don’t mean like “fictional character” because this is a real story. A real, and very very tragic story of how children can be neglected and hurt without anyone noticing. It really broke my heart to read this book.
I personally think author, Victoria James is the hero of her own story as a survivor of childhood abuse. In her book, James provides readers with insight on how to rise above your past.
“I’m just a survivor who wants to offer hope for victims out there that the cycle of abuse can be broken. Life can be better with love and faith.”
House on a Swing shares the story of Lizzie, a little girl who is caught up in a horrible childhood filled with disappointment and abuse. Poor Lizzie finds that the people she loves the most are the very people who hurt her the most.
Lizzie was abandoned by her birth mother at age 3 for a couple of reasons – her mother had cheated on her husband while he was away in the military. When he returned home, he couldn’t stand to see the fruits of that affair and told Lizzie’s mother to pick between Lizzie or him. That’s when she was sent to her grandparents and then an orphanage to live.
Lizzie was finally adopted by a horrible woman who tortured her both physically and mentally and Lizzie took more abuse than I could ever even imagine a child could withstand. Ultimately, Lizzie ran away at 13 in search of her birth mother.
When Lizzie arrives at her birth mother’s home, the man who Lizzie thinks is her mother’s boyfriend turns out to be a man who actually paid her birth mother $5,000 to own Lizzie as a sex toy. Her own mother sold her for the money. Lizzie is only able to escape from this man after he slits her stomach and shoves her out of the car leaving her for dead.
In case this isn’t horrible enough, Lizzie is then “saved” by the police and put in foster care. She goes from foster home to foster home where she is betrayed and was sexually abused by the foster dads. It’s so sad as you read Lizzie’s story to see how at first all she wants is love, but later she starts to realize that the men she is subjected to all want the same thing from her.
As Lizzie gets older, she marries man after man hoping to find love, but instead, she finds herself again abused mentally and physically. Throughout Lizzie’s life, she connects with the church and she knows there’s a God. Several times in the story she prays to this God and while it doesn’t seem that her prayers are immediately answered, she doesn’t give up and she doesn’t lose faith in God.
Lizzie is able to find spiritual healing once she finally escapes the abuse cycle. She goes on to be a productive member of society. When James is asked, she tells us “I’m no one in particular,” James said, now happily married and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Many people find it difficult to think that someone can escape their past,” James said. “But I want to offer hope that anyone can make it in the world, regardless of who you are. Don’t let what life dealt you make you any less than who you really are inside.” She says she shares her story because she wants people to know that she feels this is the life that God had planned for her so that she would be able to share her story with others. She hopes that in the process of sharing, she will be able to give hope to others so that they could find a way out for themselves.
As I read this book, I nearly wept on several occasions. Having grown up in the environment that I did, I could identify with her when she talked about counting the hits from the beating when she was “punished” so that she wouldn’t be focusing on the pain of the actual abuse. When Lizzie talked about the ways she could leave herself so that she wouldn’t be present for the pain of her abuse, I was shocked to know that others used this same technique. It broke my heart.
Near the end of the book, I kept wondering how someone who had been through so much more than me could ever look to God and be grateful, but you know what? Author Victoria James shows us exactly that. This is a book you definitely need to read, but be sure you have your tissues close by for the duration of your reading. Be sure to have your tissues ready….Victoria James is an amazing overcomer!
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publisher and/or the author in exchange for my honest review and opinion.