where-do-we-go-from-here-cover.jpgI always enjoy biographies, not of the rich and famous, those books tend to be adventures in self glorification written by a hired gun ghostwriter. No, I am talking about books about real people with real and compelling life stories. Where Do We Go From Here is just such a book. Patricia Bonelli has written a very powerful account of her life.

A common thing I talk about when discussing the merits of a book is how important, actually vital, that an author hooks the reader in the early chapters, if you have not ‘sold’ the book by page 20 many people will lose interest and move on to something else. Patricia Bonelli had me hooked from page one. Rather than launch into her life story she has a delicious rant about her ‘writing coach’. A gentleman by the name of Conrad. The well meaning coach was trying to persuade Patricia that she should write about things she knew, and what better subject than herself. The argument centered on the author wanting to write about the lessons learned, while the coach insisted it should be an account of the actual events. As she explains:

But mostly, I didn’t want to share the events of my life. The pain I’d been through, the
bad choices I made – why would I want to revisit them? Why go back down into the depths that  took so long, and so much work, to climb out of?

I think it is fair to say that both the author and the coach won this battle. Where Do We Go From Here is in fact a combination of Biography and Self Help. Each chapter ends with a Reflections section where the events are explored in through the clarity of hindsight.

An adopted child from birth Patricia Bonelli did not have an easy childhood, the cards seemed stacked against her. Trouble seemed to stalk her at every turning. Being gang raped at age 13 was merely the beginning. A school dropout at grade 7, a runaway living on the streets, a prostitute for a black pimp, the mother of a child, and she had managed all of this by the tender of age of 18!

Using her amazing ability to find an even worse place to be Patricia escapes the violence of the pimp to take up residence with a drug smuggler. By age 24 she is the mother of two more children, sired by the drug smuggler, who by this time has turned states witness in a plea bargain, 15 months in a minimum security detention facility, as opposed to 20 years of hell. For seven months Patricia found herself and her three children being shuffled from nameless motel to nameless motel as part of the Witness Protection Plan.

Somehow she survived all that had unfolded in her short life and rather than fall further into the abyss decided to change lanes. She made a pact with herself that by age 40 she would be an educated lady with a good career. Indeed she did. First a GED, then an Associates Degree, a Bachelors, and finally a Masters. In my mind that is pretty darn good for a girl who dropped out of school in grade 7.

For 25 years Patricia was part of Law Enforcement working in the Probation area. Although highly successful professionally, her private life still seemed to be a series of poor choices.

Is she happy now? I am not sure that happy would be the word that describes it, but I do believe she is at peace with the turmoil.

All in all Where Do We Go From Here makes for a fascinating read.

You can order your copy from Amazon.

Simon Barrett

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