Out from the Underworld


Non-Fiction - Memoir
228 Pages
Reviewed on 07/17/2015
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Author Biography

Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from The New School. Her work has appeared on Salon.com and in The Mother Magazine and Author Magazine, as well as in various trade publications and blogs. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012 Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore Press First Book Award. She also holds third place in the 2015 East Texas Writer's Guild First Chapter Award.

A multi-creative person with interests in the arts, nutrition, health, beauty, and animal welfare, she has founded several independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long Island in a house filled with light.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel is a memoir detailing her early years living with an irresponsible father, after the disappearance of an idolized mother. She and two siblings, Jaz and Greg, live alternately with their father in the basement of his parents’ home, and several foster homes. The underworld reference is rich in meaning. It refers to this windowless, dank, insect-infested home basement, the father’s occupation as a funeral director, and family secrets that are eventually revealed (after much resistance) to Heather and her siblings. The loving, supportive camaraderie between the siblings is the saving grace of these three children. Siegel presents her story of terrible circumstances with candor, dignity, and touches of well-placed humor.

Although the story has its difficult moments – how can any mother simply disappear, or any father treat his children with such disdain – this story is easy to read. The narrative is well-written and flows. It is easy to become emotionally involved with Heather and her siblings, hoping they can succeed in spite of such a rough childhood. Siegel presents a message of hope and resilience, without hitting the reader over the head with the message. While Siegel was a victim of parental neglect and emotional abuse, she does not present herself as a victim. Rather, she shows strength and gritty determination. Heather Siegel is a role model for each of us, teaching us how to meet difficult circumstances head-on and overcome them. Out from the Underworld is a book I will not forget.