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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I, by Omar Gonzalez, is a powerfully moving biography steeped in trauma and healing. This follow-up to The Phantom Struggle: Memoirs of a Life Once Struggling takes a unique voice, that of his longtime friend Eden Flores, which allows him to explore childhood trauma in a creatively daring and exceptionally effective way. Though it does pay homage to Eden Flores, it also reaches out to those who have endured child abuse and sexual abuse and now seek healing from it. Though the subject matter is tough and trigger warnings apply, readers will connect with it on different levels: some who haven't faced the past yet, some who have and are dealing with it, and those who are trying to put trauma in their rearview mirror.
Though therapy is an ideal way to address trauma, writing is also a therapeutic process. Gonzalez offers a path to healing, writing with sensitivity, grace, and passion. His style is sometimes in-your-face and sometimes gentle as a flower petal. Both are appreciated when discussing trauma. As a social worker turned writer, I can appreciate the work and heart that the author put into this book and the aesthetic qualities and talent. It all comes together as a written work of art. I also like that Gonzalez urges readers to report suspected child abuse and gives phone numbers and other pertinent information. You will be moved by his emotional delivery, succinct analysis, and poetic prowess. One of my favorite parts is when an older woman named Josefina gives a young Eden a knife because her beauty is, to paraphrase, both a blessing and a curse. She will need it for protection one day. If you like prose and poetry based on true stories of trauma and triumph, you will love Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I by Omar Gonzalez.