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A wonderful review from ForeWord

Confessions has been reviewed on ForeWord.

Here is a short excerpt:

The beauty of Handler’s memoir is that it will appeal to young people and adults alike, particularly those who, like Joan, have grappled with their spiritual upbringing and what it means for the day-to-day conduct of their lives. Confessions of Joan the Tall is destined to join Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Wait Till Next Year, coming-of-age tales that speak to the soul.

To read the full review, visit ForeWord

Speaking of Books talks about “Confessions”

She creates a window into the consciousness of her speaker, the girl Joan, that allows us to witness what her memory retains.  We can only guess at those experiences that have been left out.  This may be the distinction between memoir and autobiography.  And this is, for me, what makes memoir, as a genre, so fascinating.  We may or may not be given the factual truth, but we are allowed to observe the personal truth of our speaker as she grows up.

Read more at the Speaking of Books blog.

In the Wake of Newtown

I am so sorry….

For the past several weeks I’ve been celebrating the publication of Confessions and the positive response it’s received, but I have to call a halt for awhile.  In light of Friday’s tragedy, it would be blasphemous to continue to cheer.

I keep having flashbacks to 9/11 and Columbine, but this may be the worst that any of us have experienced. We can all at least intellectually understand the harsh reality that there are terrorists who would see us as Americans obliterated; likewise, we have all come to accept the fact that disenfranchised and/or mentally unstable individuals hear voices or carry anger that propels them to commit unspeakable acts against their perceived enemies. But the intentional slaughter of children! Six and seven year olds! How is such evil possible?

Like most people, I keep looking for clues that will explain this to me. What could have been the motivation, what crime could these little ones have committed to warrant such a punishment? As a psychologist, I spend a lot of time trying to make psychological sense of events and circumstances in our world—political or social. Despite the horror inflicted and the depth of the crime, I do understand how countries come to hate each other, how wars start, how individuals—often politicians–  psychologically are compelled to  precipitate—even accelerate their own demise.  Psychology explains a lot. But not this. Not yet. Perhaps never. How will we ever piece together the shattered mind of this young man who destroyed so many lives? Every drama has a protagonist who instigates action and an antagonist who works against it, but what role can we possibly assign to these children? It’s natural to look for logic at times like these but what logic could possibly exist?

I’m used to making sense of behavior by looking at an individual’s
biography. But who can supply that for us. The killer is dead; his mother is dead; his father seems devastated and at a loss to offer any information. Chances are we’re never going to know what precipitated this deadly assault. At dinner with friends last night, I wondered if perhaps the victims were stand-ins for the fortunate popular kids who perhaps tormented and rejected him when he attended that school or a similar one. Friday’s children were paying the price for their predecessors. That was the best that I could come up with. But not likely and not enough.

If we are searching for answers trying to make some sense out of these unalterable circumstances, imagine the plight of the parents and siblings and extended family’s. This is Christmas and this occurred on the closing days of Chanukah. Moms may well have been preparing Shabbos dinner or frantically rummaging at Toys ‘R Us for the latest action figure or doll outfit when they got the call. How did they find their way to the firehouse where they waited to hear the fates of their children? How were there not scores of cars smashing into each other as panicked already broken hearted parents made their way there? How did they go home—open the door to the house, their child’s room, encounter a truck or a scarf abandoned by an errant, now deceased child? How do they sleep? How in God’s name do they wake up in the morning? Tend to their other children—the sadness, the terror. How does a family sit down for dinner now? How does a parent explain what has happened to his brother or sister?

How does that parent convince herself and that child that the child should return to school?

All I come up with are questions. What I do know is that theirs is irreparable loss. Grief counseling? At best, it will take decades and will be incomplete. What parent ever gets over the loss of a child? These wounds are permanent. All my years as a psychologist does not prepare me for the unimaginable grief that has now taken over their hearts. I am a mother too and I recoil from such loss, yet I cannot turn away. But what can I do? I have no power here. Except to speak what’s in my heart and hope that you will speak what’s in yours.

Warmly,
Joan

Why CavanKerry is publishing memoirs

CavanKerry has a wonderful new video that explains the reasoning behind our new Memoir imprint, of which Confessions of Joan the Tall is the inaugural title.

My latest post on CavanKerry’s blog

My latest entry is a very special thank you to Judi and John Hannan for hosting the latest literary salon to benefit CavanKerry.

Read it here.

Sharon’s Garden on “Confessions”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Joan Cusack Handler’s life growing up. Her stories is divided up into short segments that are easy to read in short spurts of time or just as enjoyable sitting down and devouring her tales all at once.

Read the full article on Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

“Confessions” highly recommended on She Treads Softly

Confessions of Joan the Tallis an extraordinary memoir that recounts a year in the life of author Joan Cusack Handler. In a seemingly simple style, Joan Cusack Handler manages to capture the anxiety she felt over her perceived lack of piety and her way above average height.

Read more at She Treads Softly

“Confessions” gets 4 out of 5 stars on Bookchickdi

Handler perfectly captures the angst of being twelve; the uncertainty, the need to please your parents, the desire to fit in with other students and have friends, to be just like everybody else. The funny thing is, no one ever was like everybody else. Reading it brought all those feelings right back to me.

Read the full review at Bookchickdi

“Confessions” on the blog A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars

“Nothing is perfect, nothing can be, but Joan was able to put a bit of humor on it and the innocence of a young child growing up amid the trials of  being good, staying good, and being surrounded by a good family to do it in.”

Visit A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars for the full review

“Confessions” on Fiction Addict

I really enjoyed this book because even though times have changed, the topics still ring true.  Joan, despite being teased and ridiculed, has a good heart and experiences many of the same things as we do.  She is a funny, thoughtful girl that makes me laugh with her ramblings and worries.  We can see the Catholic Guilt everywhere in her writing.  Old-school Catholics will laugh as they reminisce their growing-up years, but even non-Catholic readers will get a kick out of her story.

To read the full review, visit Fiction Addict

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