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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell by Kelly J. Mendenhall is a book about survival, the human connection, regrettable steps, and a journey towards self-acceptance, healing, and triumph. What strikes the reader as they start reading this memoir is the author’s love for tattoos and it is also interesting that each tattoo captures some fragment of her history. She writes: “I’m 36 as I write this and still haven’t grown out of wanting tattoos. Much to my mother’s chagrin, this is not a phase. I still love almost every piece as much as I did the day I had it done.” Her eclectic collection of tattoos is a representation of the events of her life which are captured in this memoir — losing her father as a young girl, experiencing sexual and physical abuse as a teenager, the loss of her friends, and many other events. Follow the author through the numerous challenges of her life, both physical and moral, and how at thirty-five she suffered a tragedy that compelled her to reinvent herself, a journey both painful and inspiring.
Kelly J. Mendenhall writes with grace and simplicity and in a voice that is clear, at times opinionated, yet gripping. She looks at her life with honesty, stripping it bare to let readers see her pain, her wounds, her insecurities, and her fears. The reader follows a young woman through her growth under very complex and challenging circumstances. Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell is punctuated by images of the tattoos on the author’s body. The narrative is filled with art and symbolism, done in a gripping voice, and communicating a powerful message of hope and resilience to readers. In reading Kelly’s story, readers will be provoked to ask questions about how well they take control of their destiny.