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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Helplessly Hoping by Douglas Kent is the author's memoir detailing his relationship with Mara, his teenage sweetheart and the love of his life. Under normal circumstances, this might sound like a simple boy-meets-girl memoir. Unfortunately, simple is furthest from the truth. Mara reveals to Doug early on that she had been sexually abused by her grandfather for over a decade, and given their age and the era, he processed the information in the best way he could. Initially, the disclosure feels like a hurdle they can overcome, but as the relationship grows and Mara's mental and physical well-being starts to fall apart, Doug finds himself putting on different hats for different versions of the woman he adores, as they both struggle to come to grips with what they're really up against.
Helplessly Hoping is a fantastic memoir. Douglas Kent is able to share his story in a way that is so authentic and engrossing that it occasionally feels like a friend shooting the breeze over a beer. It's a difficult balancing act to invest a reader in a real-life story of people they know nothing about and make them want to know more. Kent delivers with the panache of an experienced writer, injecting wit and humor into a narrative that, in the hands of a less skilled author, might get crushed under the weight of a heavy story. I loved the hope of a young couple buying two nights worth of Chinese food they can't afford but get anyway because...why not? I also connected with Mara, not by comparison to her trauma, but to the everyday annoyances that were heightened by illness. I'm so grateful Kent has shared their story and highly recommend it.