Surviving Chaos

How I Found Peace at A Beach Bar

Non-Fiction - Memoir
316 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2021
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Author Biography

It’s a  story of a boy surviving being reared by a schizophrenic mom and a greedy aunt yet having to deal with bullying, sexual assaults, self confidence, coming of age, an absent father, racism, and dating through his own vision of what life was supposed to be. For more than fifty years, Harold Phifer's childhood living conditions remained a secret, even from those who thought they knew him best. It wasn't until an explosion in Afghanistan that his memory blasted back into focus. He exposed failures and obstacles that fell upon him from day to day. But it’s not the losing that make the story, it's the way he saw the world and how he took on his defeats that wins the reader.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

Raised by a schizophrenic mother and a manipulating aunt in Mississippi, Harold’s childhood is fraught with consistent abuse and violence. He soon learns the art of becoming invisible and complacent to avoid the daily ritual of physical and emotional attacks, not only from those who should care for him but also from his older sibling and peers. Although Harold’s childhood is a constant battle to survive each day unscathed, he somehow manages to retain his humor and hunger to succeed. Surviving Chaos (How I Found Peace at a Beach Bar) by Harold Phifer is an inspirational and heartwarming story of one man’s journey to make sense of his chaotic and dysfunctional world with unwavering determination and optimism. Follow Harold’s horrifying story as he recounts the events and memories from the mayhem of his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As Harold, now 56 years of age, recovers from a near-death experience in Afghanistan, he begins the long journey toward recovery and a peaceful future.

Surviving Chaos by Harold Phifer is a beautifully written memoir that will take you on a rollercoaster of powerful emotions. Harold is a natural-born storyteller as he invites you inside his world of betrayal, abuse, neglect, and triumph. I loved how the story, switching from past to present, lends the reader insight into Harold’s mindset at each stage of his life. The humor is superb; his attitude toward his lack of friends and his dog abandoning him made me laugh out loud. The characters are memorable, with larger-than-life personalities that leaped from the page, especially Flirty Shirley and Dead Eye Red. The story flowed perfectly and kept my interest. Some of the scenes of abuse were extremely hard to read, especially the manipulating mind games by his aunt. The relentless bullying and violence Harold suffers builds a strength of character that is extraordinary. However, the story reminds us that one event can trigger painful memories of the past if not addressed. Harold’s story is a beacon of hope that we can overcome adversity and regain our dignity, kindness, and resolve to find a positive future. Surviving Chaos is a compelling read.