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Estranged

Leaving Family and Finding Home
Narrated by: Jessica Berger Gross
Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

To outsiders, Jessica Berger Gross's childhood - growing up in a "nice" Jewish family in middle class Long Island - seemed as wholesomely American as any other. But behind closed doors, Jessica suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, whose mood would veer unexpectedly from loving to violent.

At the age of 28, still reeling from the trauma but emotionally dependent on her dysfunctional family, Jessica made the anguished decision to cut ties with them entirely. Years later, living in Maine with a loving husband and young son, having finally found happiness, Jessica is convinced the decision saved her life.

In her powerful memoir reminiscent of Jeannette Walls's best seller The Glass Castle, Jessica breaks through common social taboos and bravely recounts the painful, self-defeating ways in which she internalized her abusive childhood, how she came to the monumental decision to break free from her family, and how she endured the difficult road that followed. Ultimately, by extracting herself from the damaging patterns and relationships of the past, Jessica has managed to carve an inspiring path to happiness - one she has created on her own terms. Her story, told here in a careful, unflinching, and forthright way, completely reframes how we think about family and the past.

©2017 Jessica Berger Gross (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[A] memoir of love, abuse, despair, and hope . . . a reminder that any family can hide a secret and that many victims of abuse go their entire lives without speaking out about it." ( Booklist)

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Reader Comments

This book is highly recommend to victims of child abuse and who have subsequently become estranged from their families. Reading Jessica's story helped me to recover from the child abuse I endured and to accept my estrangement from my family.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Book Changed my life

Wow, as someone who recently estranged from her family after years of physical abuse it was amazing hearing someone whose thoughts and feelings were so closely matched to my own. Please don't listen to the negative comments, theirs a lot of people in the comments with zero compassion and shame in their hearts commenting because they're triggered by how close to home the book hits. Theirs, not one kind person who wouldn't feel for this woman's story. Empathy is all I felt for her and she is so brave for sharing her story because not everyone deserves to hear it.

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Sincere Story

I share traits from this story in my own life. This a decent book, my main takeaway if the conflict between how the ‘model’ of our relationships in the nuclear family to what they actually are. Am glad the author managed to marry, have children and inch closer to what a family ought to be. Am still waiting for that chance.

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  • Julia
  • Newmarket, NH, United States
  • 10-04-18

I can relate

The author does an excellent job reflecting and explaining the complexity of being raised by parents that abuse their children and have the ability to rationalize it for years (and actually for their entire lives.) while still loving their children. Explaining the feelings from the perspective of the child is something I can relate to as her parents sound just like mine.
There are millions of estranged adult children in the world today for this exact reason and the more it’s put out in the open - the more we can all learn from it and not abuse future generations.