RL: Yes. I feel the tone was more confessional in my first memoir, laying out the occurrences in such a way as to tell on the people who failed to care for me in the ways they’d signed up for, and tell on myself for the not-so-desirable ways in which I responded to the adverse experiences that seemed to plague my growing-up years.
MM: What is one thing that you believe every American should know about the U.S. foster care system?
RL: I want people to know that the U.S. foster care system is a business, and like every business built upon the values of capitalism, foster care is a for-profit business. It is run on an annual budget of $65 billion a year. And yet, still, every year in California alone, 20,000 young people age out with no place to go, no skills to rely on and no one to call home.
MM: What is one thing you would like to tell a child who is currently living within the system?
RL: Learn how to make the system, your experiences in it and your attitudes about it your own. Be creative in your endeavors; the sky is the limit. Ask for 100 percent of what you dream of from your social worker and find ways to make her/him say yes to your ask. The system is a business; learn the secrets of it, and use it to your advantage.
MM: In your opinion, what is the inherent value of people sharing their stories, whatever they may be?
RL: From the day I decided to make that “pact with God” (I was 11 years old) that should I be beaten — yet again — that it would be a sign from Him to leave the only home I’d known, I knew that I had something in me worth protecting, holding on to and worthy of a chance. The day I ran, I promised to one day tell my story. I knew the way I was being reared was not based on right and loving action. I not only knew this, but I had a strong felt-sense about it. Having our say and telling our stories are actions that are validating for the preservation of selfhood. It’s the one thing we have that no one can take from us.
Local Page Turners
Someone Has Led This Child to Believe by Regina Louise (Walnut Creek), Agate Bolden, $16. This book is the beautiful follow-up to Somebody’s Someone, Regina Louise’s debut memoir about growing up in the U.S. foster care system. In this book, Louise once again draws on her experience as one of society’s abandoned children to tell how she emerged from the harsh and dehumanizing system, not only to survive, but to flourish. Appearing at Book Passage Sausalito August 28, 7 p.m.
No Complaints: How to Stop Sabotaging Your Own Joy by Cianna Stewart (Berkeley), No Complaining Project, $17.99. About 10 years ago, documentary filmmaker and author Cianna Stewart reached a breaking point when she realized that she was complaining all the time. Over the decade that followed she moved from being a passive complainer who saw herself as powerless to actively taking control of her life and getting more out of all aspects of it along the way. No Complaints is a workbook for people who believe they’re too negative and are ready to change but don’t know where to start. Appearing at Book Passage Sausalito August 4, 4 p.m.
Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Bay Area), Berkeley Books, $26. In the days leading up to her wedding to Darcy O’Mara, Lady Georgiana Rannoch takes on the responsibilities of a grand estate, but proving she can run a household just may be the death of her. This is the latest Royal Spyness mystery from Rhys Bowen, the New York Times bestselling writer and the author of the Molly Murphy and Constable Evans mysteries series. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera August 14, 7 p.m.
The Healing by Saeeda Hafiz (San Francisco), University of Nebraska, $18.95. In this memoir, a young woman signs up for lessons in yoga and clean eating as signifiers of her new middle-class status, not realizing that her chosen lifestyle will bring her face-to-face with the inner demons created by the domestic violence, addiction and poverty of her youth. Saeeda Hafiz gives a frank account of the anxiety and rewards of becoming “middle class” through a complete change of diet and adopting habits such as traveling and doing yoga. Appearing at Book Passage Sausalito August 15, 6 p.m.
Reviews by Book Passage Marketing Manager Zack Ruskin.