This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.
This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.
Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Hands That Held Me is a dark and terrifying dive into the life of author Lisa Jo Symonds and her battles with addiction, abuse, pain, and suffering. From around the age of four, she had experienced the worst that this world has to offer a child; severe physical abuse from her father, plus sexual abuse from male relatives and family friends at home, and horrific bullying from her peers at school. There was nowhere safe for the little girl to go so she retreated into her own world inside her head, whilst these things were perpetrated upon her. Regularly drinking and smoking marijuana by the age of eight, the author was introduced to a lifestyle of using men for drugs and other necessities by her beloved second sister, so that by the age of thirteen, she was already addicted to the cocaine rush and a lifestyle of swapping her body for her daily needs. Pregnant by 15, she had already had three children by her twentieth birthday. In a life punctuated by long periods of sobriety and sham relationships with men who would continue to abuse her the same way everyone else had, the call of drugs, alcohol, and oblivion from the pain that they brought was never far away. It would take her own near-death to finally awaken her to the need to change the ingrained thought patterns that motivated her need for relief from drugs and alcohol.
The Hands That Held Me is a frighteningly honest account of a young woman’s life that was almost completely destroyed by those who were most required to protect her. By opening herself and her pain to the world, in this way Lisa Jo Symonds wants others - both addicts and family members of addicts - to understand the powerful forces that go on within these relationships. Her sole motivation these days is to help others escape their mental and emotional prisons earlier than the fifty years and immense pain it took her to do so. I was particularly struck by two aspects of the author’s experience. First, the power of Stockholm Syndrome applies to those who abuse and torment the people they supposedly love. I’m sure other readers will be stunned by the lengths Lisa Jo went to retain relationships with the people who had abused her so violently and selfishly and to convince herself that she desperately needed these people in her life, despite the suffering they caused her. Second, one couldn’t help but be brought to tears by Lisa’s plea for family and friends of addicts not to fully embrace the concept of “tough love”. If one thing stands out for me in this book, it is this: “You can’t undo death. You can’t take back that tough love after they are gone… the guilt you feel… will destroy you.” That was like a spear through my heart and resonated with me completely. This is a tough read. Although I appreciated the author’s way of dealing with the sexual abuse ensured, she didn’t have to spell it out for us; it is absolutely riveting reading. This should be a recommended read for any addict, abuse victim, and family of the same. The overriding message though should not be lost in the pain – there is hope. If Lisa Jo can survive all this, then there is hope.