My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Entrenched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go is the story of one woman’s journey through a turbulent relationship. The author, Linda Blakemore, graciously reached out to me and offered her book for me to read in exchange for an honest review.
It is so difficult to review memoirs. It is such an act of vulnerability to share your story, especially one that contains so much pain and trauma.
I will say I really enjoyed reading this memoir. There were many times I forgot that I was even reading a true story. Blakemore does an amazing job of narration and transporting us in her world of being with Jack, using dialogue and details to vividly paint a picture. I was amazed at the level of detail she was able to recall for the story.
I also had to constantly remind myself that this is someone’s life, not a work of fiction, in that I had to have patience for Blakemore’s decision to keep going back to the relationship. There were so many times where I wanted to say “Girl what!?” In fiction it’s easy to judge the choices of the characters as being poor, just because you are an outsider with the ability to see other options available objectively. But Blakemore’s story brings up an important lesson in having patience for abuse survivors and the enduring nature of emotional manipulation.
Blakemore did an excellent job narrating the subtleties of the relationship, highlighting the good parts and the bad parts. Through these subtleties readers see why leaving the relationship was so difficult for Blakemore. The balanced approach also humanizes Jack in a way that doesn’t minimize the abuse or excuse his actions (in my opinion, anyway). Blakemore also doesn’t shy away from taking responsibility for her actions (not for the abuse, which is definitely not her fault, but for how she treated her children and her support system).
Something I wish Blakemore would have explored more was the relationship with her children, and even more on how the relationship with Jack’s children developed through all this. Throughout the book, they are mentioned, but I would love to see the process of mending those relationships. I understand that they were probably not as prominent to respect their privacy.
Sometimes I felt like the book was too focused on Jack. I think the book would have been greatly enhanced by discussing the evolution of the relationships Blakemore had with the other people in her life and how being with Jack affected those relationships as well as her personally. I also felt like the ending felt a bit rushed, like most of the book took its time working through the story, and then the years sped by with a quick little wrap-up.
Overall, Blakemore’s story is powerful. Being a survivor of abuse is complex, oftentimes spilling into seemingly unrelated parts of our lives. This story does well to weave how past trauma can show up and why taking time to heal from it can help you more than you even know.
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Thank you Linda Lee Blakemore for my digital advance reader copy!
You can get Entrenched here.
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