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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
In the epilogue of her autobiography, After All, Maria Trautman concludes that forgiveness is not about excusing behavior, such as abuse, but about “letting go” so that her “soul would be free of bitterness.” If only all victims of parental and sexual abuse could embrace the wisdom of that insight and act upon it: it would change their present mindsets and their futures, just as Maria changed hers. As a young child, Maria’s mother abandoned her to the care of her beloved grandparents in rural Portugal, but after grandma’s death, the grandfather was forced to send Maria back to her mother in Lisbon. What a shock awaited Maria after the loving care of her grandparents. For reasons Maria couldn’t fathom, her mother hated her and abused her so badly, even into her teens, that all Maria could think of was getting away, especially after she was also being sexually abused by her male employer.
Maria was intelligent, thirsted for knowledge, and was prepared to do whatever was required to better her present life. She prayed fervently for God to intervene and when her aunt offered to bring her to live with her in Canada, Maria felt her prayers had been answered. Over the years, despite another case of sexual abuse, this time by her uncle, and other setbacks, she learned to speak English and got a job. One job led to another, each taking her to better career positions and eventually, to a happy future with a loving husband. Maria Trautman’s memoir is what a good memoir should be i.e. one that shows the protagonist facing mounting struggles, becoming stronger with each battle, and emerging victorious at the end. Readers come away cheering for a woman who refused to give up. There is too much pain and sadness in Maria’s story to share in a review, but she delivers it all with sensitivity and without sensationalism. If you are a victim of abuse, whatever kind, read Trautman’s After All. It is inspiring!