Becoming Home

Journeying Through the Rooms of My Past to Reclaim My Story

Non-Fiction - Memoir
288 Pages
Reviewed on 01/13/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

Becoming Home is a heartfelt memoir by Ashleigh Stevens. It takes the reader through the rooms (chapters) of her life as discovered in a therapy program in which she faces her trials and errors in a journey to understand her life and to recover from the terror of an abusive step-father and a boyfriend, as well as from the grief of family tragedies. Her specific steps of therapy are woven into her personal story as she moves toward acceptance and forgiveness. She accounts for her most traumatic issues by entering each one as a “room,” which she describes with the colors and designs that fit the eight particular traumas that have affected her personal growth. By facing them systematically, she has managed to free herself from their negative results. Within the rooms, individual chapters demonstrate the problems and the solutions which she describes as “joy and sorrow twirling together in a dance.” Little doubt exists that Ms. Stevens is a survivor, and she reveals her struggles with power, truth, and honest self-blame.

I would strongly suggest any reader of Ms. Stevens’ memoir have a box of tissues handy for both the sorrows and the joys. Not long into the book, I discovered her heartfelt and brutally honest attempt to tell her story for the sake of helping others, particularly teens, in facing their troubles and in escaping from self-condemnation. One thing became especially clear to me: in her personal growth, Ms. Stevens felt the impossible need to be perfect. She blamed herself for nearly everything that happened to her (most of which was not her fault or anything that she could control). Yet, through a structured mental therapy program, she eventually gets free from self-blame to achieve her professional goal of becoming a teacher and her personal goal of achieving happiness in spite of her difficult young life. Becoming Home by Ashleigh Stevens will marvelously achieve her goal of helping others free themselves from the deep troubles we all face, young and old, as we make our way through our lives.

Amy Raines

Becoming Home: Journeying Through the Rooms of My Past to Reclaim My Story is a memoir by Ashleigh Stevens. Ashleigh doesn’t believe that home is any specific place. Home is where a person feels loved, happy, and safe with family. An act of cruelty at the hands of her stepfather caused her to have severe problems later on. Her reactions to the problems she knows she’ll face when she does something her boyfriend disapproves of make her realize that she should leave him. With low self-esteem, a poor self-image, and hardly any love for herself, Ashleigh realizes that she needs professional help. Her therapist helps her to dig deep into her emotions.

Becoming Home is an inspiring story that will help other people search for ways to find peace after suffering from emotional trauma. I applaud the courage it takes for any victim of any kind of abuse to step forward and share their story so that others may recognize the signs of abuse and do something about it. I love that Stevens used her personal experiences to convince herself that trying to heal on her own just won’t do. This will help others see that seeking the help of a professional therapist can help them in the healing process. I recommend Becoming Home by Ashleigh Stevens to anyone who has suffered trauma or knows someone who has. This book would be the perfect addition to the self-help books that guide people through ways to heal and will help them cope with the trauma they face.

Edith Wairimu

In her profoundly hopeful memoir, Becoming Home: Journeying Through the Rooms of My Past to Reclaim My Story, Ashleigh Stevens revisits past traumatic parts of her life so that she can heal, love herself, and embrace other new, beautiful experiences. After ending an abusive relationship, Stevens decided to examine her past, uncover the pain that she had ignored for so long, and look into the rooms she had locked up. Stevens covers her parents’ troubled marriage and divorce. While she remembers past happy moments, she documents the tragedies that changed her family forever. She explores the abuse she suffered from her stepfather and an ex-boyfriend and the loss of herself during the difficult moments of her life. Her story shows that healing is possible and periods of pain can lead to hope and happiness.

This is an eye-opening memoir written in elegant prose that draws readers into the rooms of Stevens’s life, encouraging them to look into their pasts, find healing, and discover their true selves. I appreciated how Stevens organized parts of her life in the form of rooms, showing how each part impacted her and how she learned to understand and grow from each experience. There are many enlightening moments included that I found encouraging. I loved Stevens’s emphasis on taking time to invest in oneself, understand how tragedy affects us, and see the blessings that are wrapped within the difficult aspects of life. Becoming Home by Ashleigh Stevens is an incredible memoir full of hope and written with empathy and wisdom.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

In Ashleigh Stevens' memoir, Becoming Home, the author has compartmentalized her traumas into rooms in the house of her mind. Ashleigh shares the contents with readers as she "cleans" each area, detailing her joys and struggles as she moves through them with the help of her therapist. From physical, mental, and emotional abuse to coping with an illness in the family and the death of a sibling, her fears and decisions are laid bare for everyone to read. The author details her difficulties, but she also shares the hope for a better life and her path to fulfill that dream.

Everyone has a story, but Ashleigh Stevens has the courage to tell the truths that define her and show the world her resulting strength. Throughout the memoir, readers will see Ashleigh grow into a more mature person, and though her choices may not have always been ideal, she embraces her mistakes and makes better decisions. Ashleigh's narration is conversational and would also appeal to a teen or new adult who is struggling with past hurts and insecurities. The memoir is a testament to the success of therapy for willing participants and shatters the stigma around mental health. The author reminds us we are all worthy of love, and—in our hearts and minds—we can start at any point in our lives to move into happier circumstances. Becoming Home is a great selection for readers who may need motivation to start a new phase or be inspired to move into a mentally healthier situation.