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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Because You're You: A True Story by Nina Guilbeau and Dorothy Del Valle chronicles Dorothy’s life, born in Caguas, Puerto Rico in 1975. She has happy recollections of her childhood, but at the age of eleven, she had already grown tired of living. The narrative opens with the tragic statement that evokes a powerful sense of pathos in the reader: “I was 11 years old the first time I tried to take my life. Most days I try not to think about it, or about all the other attempts. I don’t want to dwell on the 25 years of psychiatric treatment and the thirteen pills a day I had to take to remain normal. Most days I just try to focus on the fact that God saved me when I couldn’t save myself.” In this memoir, the authors share her story and expose the painful path of a stripper, an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a prostitute. She suffered sexual abuse and had developed a very negative self-image of herself.
But this book is not about her debauchery or her stints with psychiatric treatment. It’s a gift, a story of grace, a narrative that testifies how God saved her when she couldn’t save herself. As I read the story of Dorothy, I experienced all kinds of conflicting emotions, but the powerful message of the book is unmistakable and reassuring. Because You're You: A True Story is written in a tone that is compassionate without failing to be ruthlessly honest. The personal journey of the protagonist will encourage readers not to lose hope but rather seek God in the midst of their darkness. Dorothy is able to open her wounds before readers and allows them to see the light of God shining through those wounds and bringing new life into her.