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Jessica Berger Gross’s “gripping memoir about growing up in—and growing out of—a deeply dysfunctional, abusive family” (Glamour.com) redefines our understanding of estrangement and celebrates the ability to triumph over adversity.
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 twenty-eight, 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 “unsentimentally courageous memoir” (Kirkus Reviews), one of Elle’s “Best Books of the Summer,” 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 distance herself from her family, and how she endured the difficult road that followed. Ultimately, by removing 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. Estranged is “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).