COMING IN 2023: NEW MEMOIR BY HEATHER CONN
Published by Guernica Editions, Toronto, ON, Canada
Incest denial and sexual assaults disrupt a young woman’s solo spiritual quest and her two romantic adventures in India in 1990-91. Two decades later, after profound healing, she’s resilient at mid-life. Finding the love and intimacy she craves, she can, at last, forgive her dying father—and her mom, for her decades of silence.
This powerful adventure tale and survivor’s story strives to help inspire others to find redemption, compassion, and forgiveness.
Sylvia Fraser, author of My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing (1987, Doubleday Canada), says:
“Since publishing my 1987 memoir about incest, I have been asked to comment on many manuscripts on child sexual abuse. No Letter in Your Pocket is among the best of the best. Heather Conn combines depth of research with her own courageous story of father-daughter incest, including the recovery of lost memories, the confrontation of her abuser, and the healing of her own wounded self through compassion and forgiveness of others. I recommend her beautifully written memoir unreservedly, not only for other abuse victims, but also for any reader interested in a compelling story.”
Best-selling author Dr. Bernie Siegel, who wrote the book’s afterword, says:
“When I started reading Heather’s moving account of her journey through hell and what she learned from it, I couldn’t stop. . . The pages are filled with her pain and the courage she had to feel her experiences, change who she was, and stop leading a double life. . .We can all benefit by reading about, and learning from, her experience.”
Diana Hume George, Professor Emerita, English and Women’s Studies, Penn State University, and faculty member in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, says:
“I’ll give this book to every survivor I know who struggles to transcend such pain without the lifelong self-consumption that occurs when people who should thrive instead rest in the stranglehold of victimization. Conn is a superb writer, and No Letter in Your Pocket makes of her a healer whose medium and medicine are language.
“I worked with her [Heather Conn] on her MFA thesis in creative nonfiction at Goucher, where her memoir was justly regarded as remarkable. Her subjects included spiritual quest, compassionate contemplation, recovery from trauma, gender issues, the values and uses of travel in cultures deeply unfamiliar to oneself. Her thesis turned into a rich, thick, deeply textured book…I think of it as the kind that Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love probably yearned to be.”
Editor Erin Parker (erintheeditor.com) says:
“You’ve done an amazing, brave thing here…I was struck by your talent for turning painful experiences that defy language into beautifully written scenes that recreate and, with the help of your meticulous research and thoughtful analysis, contextualize each step on your long journey toward healing and forgiveness. You paint a scene so vibrantly, shaping the raw, delicate material of memory into something solid.
“The Preface captivates me every time I read it; as you watch your father’s body being moved onto a gurney, wander around his house and survey his belongings, and attend his funeral, you so poignantly grapple with your complex feelings about him.
“This is a book that’s not afraid to explore the nuances of the difficult subject of incest, and we get an early introduction to your unflinching, yet also empathetic perspective in this preface…You’ve done a brilliant job…[It] will help other people who have suffered, either directly or indirectly, from similar experiences.”
The book includes descriptions of 13 family photos across the decades and their significance to the author.
Family photo #10
“My dad at age five or six stands on a wagon. He holds its long handle in both hands, dressed in a white sailor’s suit with white ankle socks, and open, strapped shoes. His straight bangs look brushed across, conveying obedience and order. As if viewing the photographer’s unseen waving hand, he glances off-camera. Watch the birdie. Embodying a life still unfurled, he offers only the faint suggestion of a smile, a hint of curiosity.
“An acquaintance, a psychotherapist and incest survivor who works with victims of sexual abuse, has said of abusers: “Think of them as three-year-old children. That helps.” I think of all adults, including me, as frustrated five-year-olds, scrambling to get their emotional needs met in a myriad of ways.”
Family photo #13:
“I am four days old, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket in the hospital. Under a complete head of hair, with one eye scrunched half-closed, I stare at the camera, my tiny hands folded together under my chin. My expression seems to say: I don’t know about this place. Do I really want to be here? The final addition to a family, I am a wary new bundle, ready for love. But are they ready for me, ready for this rough pebble in their quiet stream?“
“While my father was dying, SoulCollage® became a refuge. After creating a card to represent him, I shared it with my parents. Its images included my dad as a boy and a statue of a lascivious-looking, bare-chested male clutching a younger female. The card silently told my father: ‘I know who you are and what you did, yet, I recognize the pure child in you and the love that we have otherwise shared.’ With my dad in mind, I also created a forgiveness and compassion card, respectively. Viewing them daily helped reinforce my desire to share more of these qualities each day.”
** Note: Readings, tutorials, and workshops are available on demand for those writing about traumatic and transformational experiences. I love helping others find a voice for their greatest fear and shame. See the Teaching section on this website to find out more about my 2022 online workshop Writing From Pain to Power.