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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
Mixed Relations: An Unusual Childhood by Gertrude Mueller von Deham follows Deham’s (identified as Evelyn in the chronicle) saddening but inspiring story. The first book in a trilogy, the story covers her life from 1877 to 1938. Despite her royal heritage, she grows up in a confining home, deprived of the right to an education. After her father’s passing, Evelyn is raised by her mother who is cold-hearted and violent. Her abusive childhood does not limit her imagination. Instead, she finds comfort in her ability to identify the beauty of life around her. Though her mother is resolute in her decision not to educate her daughter, Evelyn finds ways to remain in school. Her remarkable resilience carries her through the struggles of pursuing an education while taking care of her manipulative mother.
For someone who grows up in a painful and traumatizing environment, Evelyn’s positive attitude is inspiring. Though she is greatly unexposed to the outside world, Evelyn understands the value of education in impacting ideas and knowledge. She reads everything around her and even outshines other students who come from better circumstances. She battles through rejection by her own mother and the alienation of her peers at school. Despite these hurdles, her kindness does not diminish and her loyalty to her mother continues as Evelyn takes care of her throughout her agonizing illness. I also found the storytelling to be engaging. It captures the characters’ perspectives and emotions. Historical detail also adds depth to the novel. Mixed Relations is a powerful historical autobiography about one woman’s endurance and fortitude which is evident from her ability to overcome her limiting, isolating childhood.