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Reviewed by Karen Walpole for Readers' Favorite
Searching for the Shire, an autobiography by Florence St. John, tells the story of the author’s many years in dysfunctional and codependent relationships. Florence’s father was an alcoholic and, like many children of alcoholics, she learned at an early age to subjugate her own needs and feelings in order to keep peace in the household. She brought the same lack of self-care and self-esteem to her marriage, so her life became more and more difficult financially and emotionally. Although she had learning difficulties in school, Florence attempts to improve her life with an education. In spite of her success at college, her relationship with her husband continues to deteriorate. Her husband becomes progressively less responsible and they both hit rock bottom. The rest of the book deals with figuring out just why things happened the way they did, and learning about how to take care of her own needs and build healthy relationships.
For anyone who has ever wanted to understand codependency, this is a great book. Rather than reading something clinical on the subject, the reader “lives” the codependent's life through the book. The narrative unfolds naturally and flows well. Reading about the author’s life enlightens the reader, but the message about care of self becomes very clear as the story progresses. I recommend Searching for the Shire by Florence St. John for anyone who suspects they are codependent and anyone with alcoholic family members or friends. Seeing how alcoholism changes the people around the alcoholic helps in understanding codependent people and relationships.