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Reviewed by Johnny Masiulewicz for Readers' Favorite
Thea Mancini begins Keep Your Eyes Open with a quote from the Book of Isaiah and ends it with a quote from pop superstar Taylor Swift. The wide disparity of these literary bookends does indeed represent the broad scope of this harrowing memoir. However, while the pop song quote is reflective of the story’s optimistic ending, the opening quote would be much more suitable were it a quote from the Book of Job. For like that Biblical character, Mancini finds her life relentlessly and inexplicably stricken with mishaps. These begin for her at a very young age with the onset of a definite cycle of abuse. With effects that will last the rest of her life, this cycle incorporates a number of unfortunate episodes including those involving parental abandonment, failed relationships, body image issues, and a general sense of low self-worth caused by years of abasement. Thankfully, Mancini does eventually get into a relatively stable and supportive relationship, and although her marriage does run into some rocky trials, she finds strength in her faith and its ensuing drive to make her marriage work and her life more livable.
Definitely not a narrative for the faint-hearted, Keep Your Eyes Open challenges the reader with the level and intensity of the suffering visited upon its protagonist. Not until halfway through the narrative is the oppressive weight of abuse lifted and Mancini begins to experience a bit of well-deserved joy in life. A more superficial reader might have left the story by that time, but those viewing the story in its holistic sense will see that such glaring emphasis on the negative provides the necessary contrast to the eventual positives that will be bestowed upon Mancini. When that does happen, Keep Your Eyes Open finally becomes a tale of redemption, of new found hope through self-worth and persistence, and of how a strong faith in God can help anyone get through life's toughest challenges.