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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If ever a story and its author were worthy of the accolades it has received, it’s the memoir Strip by Hannah Sward. I have read dozens of memoirs, even written my own, based on early childhood abuse and its lifelong effects on the child, but few tell the story the way Sward tells hers. Strip is unique; in fact, so much so that I was quite unprepared for her stark, almost laissez-faire approach to such an emotionally-laden subject. But as Sward developed her story, I realized how subtly she had drawn me into her heart and soul and I couldn’t stop reading.
After 6-year-old Hannah is molested by a man in a brown car, she doesn’t do the usual deep dive into pain that readers of childhood abuse memoirs expect. She just moves on and grows up with what seems like a “so, that’s life” attitude. But wait for it! What Hannah experiences, the jobs she takes on to support herself, her descent into meth addiction, and even alcoholism all speak volumes about the pain mere words can never express. As a result, you feel her debilitating loss of self-love that much more acutely. She is hurting but doesn’t say it. She doesn’t have to; her actions and decisions speak volumes. And we feel that hurt with every page of her memoir.
I don’t want to reveal much more about the journey on which Hannah Sward takes us in Strip. I want readers to experience her journey privately with her. What is best about this journey is that along the way Sward discovered her marvelous writing talent and is today recognized for it. You will see that I’m far from alone in my respect and admiration for her. Read it; it is a memoir unlike any other.