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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.