Thursday, September 13, 2012

AUTHENTIC AND FREE: A Journey From Shame to Self-Acceptance by Courtney Long

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Create Space, July 2012, 
Pages: 368

Courtney Long grew up in a home with an emotionally-detached father and an overbearing mother with control issues, literally threatening her daughter to "make her life hell" if she did not follow her rules. This led to body image issues and an eating disorder, as young Courtney tried desperately to meet her mother's expectations, which also affected her ability to relate to her peers. At the same time, Courtney began to realize she was bisexual, and that brought up another entire level of guilt, although her parents were surprisingly open-minded when she came out to them. The person she really needed approval from was the one it was hardest to win over: herself. 

Part heartfelt memoir, and part self-help book, "Authentic and Free" provides a chronological journey of Courtney's struggles, told in flashbacks, as she slowly overcame actual and perceived obstacles to self-acceptance. Like many teens, she was a victim of bullying, but from her own "inner bully" whom she felt was preventing her from being what she desperately wanted to be. 

Like most memoirs, some conversations and incidents may have been embellished for effect, and some do come across more than a bit contrived. But, overall, this is an inspiring and well-written book, from which almost anyone can get some positive feedback. Four stars out of five.

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