Book Review – UNDERTOW

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Diane Madden Ferguson’s UNDERTOW: A U.S. Navy Veteran’s Journey through Military Sexual Trauma, is more than just a Memoir. This book is a significant breakthrough in an era where silence was once the golden rule for women (and men) who suffer/suffered abuse at the hands of predators in positions of authority—positions often misused in some unholy ways. Where trust is broken, faith is shaken and dreams are shattered, the ocean of life threatens to swallow us whole. UNDERTOW could not have been more aptly titled or timed.

Yes, I co-edited this first edition of UNDERTOW with Diane using one of this new era’s greatest technologies—video-phone. Together we worked fervently to get UNDERTOW underway for its induction in the Arlington library in November 2016. THIS, you may think, might make my review of UNDERTOW somewhat biased, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that during that adrenalin-pumping six weeks—from the first time we sat together on video-phone on September 13th when I read her manuscript out loud to her to begin the editing process, to the moment we pressed the “PUBLISH” button together on October 28th—I read UNDERTOW, front to back, a total of 47 times.

47 times! Have you ever read a book 47 times? Have you ever read a book that you could even imagine wanting to read 47 times? Well, let me tell you that Diane’s UNDERTOW is a memoir worth reading that many times and MORE! Diane could have chosen to write it as a novel, fictionalizing and embellishing, and it would have been a New York Times best-seller. But she chose to “tell it like it was” straightforward and upfront in a Memoir (still could be a #1 NY Times best-seller!)—admitting the naivety of her youth, the gravity of the life and death situations she was pulled into, the secrets the military would rather we didn’t know, and the scars that remain for her to this day.

Lucky for many of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that sailed the watery prairies of the Navy at the time she was serving, Diane chose to keep their names anonymous. Nevertheless, anonymity cannot change the deeds that were done by those in a position of trust and power. Today, there are many women and men helping to fight this battle on new fronts, making it more difficult, if not impossible to allow this kind of abuse to continue in the U.S. military.

What stands out for me when I read this gutsy, gracious book is Diane’s perseverance through trauma and tragedy. Her sense of humor and self-honesty are truly stellar. I find myself (like a teenage boy who’s seen the movie Star Wars six times) often quoting from her book some of the best lines I’ve ever read. There are so many precious gems in this book I cannot count them all. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be from Chapter 2: “What Was I Thinking” which reads, “We reach a point in our lives where we have to forgive our parents for being human.” For, as this story unfolds, this becomes the profound universal truth applicable to all people everywhere—we have to forgive EVERYONE, including OURSELVES. And, then there is the question left resounding across time and space, which is, “What IS human?”

I understand that as an editor it is difficult, at best (and even inappropriate according to some) to review an author’s book that I’ve assisted with publishing; however, I’m going to have to go for the high dive into these deep waters anyway to tell you that this story is a ride you simply can’t miss. No good surfer would pass by a WAVE this tremendous!

Let Diane’s story take you under the UNDERTOW, bring you up for a gasp of air, and repeat, as you journey beside her from the depths of despair to the shores of salvation. And have the tissues handy because in between the moments of tragedy that bring you to tears, you are sure to be wiping them from your eyes from laughing so loud and hard at her phenomenal sense of humor!

And make sure you visit her website and her Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with the progress being made by men and women across this great nation to “PROTECT AND SERVE THOSE WHO PROTECT AND SERVE.”

Truly, someone should make this a movie!
I would watch it 47 times . . . at least!

© Jennifer Sweete, December 2016

Look for my future blog posts right here!

Need help editing your written work? I edit with you! Yes, with you! YOU MAINTAIN CONTROL OF YOUR BOOK! What a concept, eh?!

How effective is your marketing strategy? Ask me about my Author Assist program to help you market your book(s).

Books I am enjoying reading this holiday season:

Plato and Aristotle. A fascinating study of two philosophers at odds. (Still working my way through the thicket of philosophical reckoning . . .)

The Peculiar Children of Ransom Riggs are quite peculiar! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a work of art! It was easy to get excited about Rigg’s Tales of the Peculiar — I mean, just the book’s binding and colors and artwork alone catch one by the tail . . . and the tale itself, well, that’s a whole peculiar story – actually, quite a few peculiar stories! I think the Peculiars might be holding Riggs ransom . . .

Doann Houghton-Alico’s Voice of a Voyage – Stay tuned for my review . . .

Until we meet again, keep reading, keep writing, keep dreaming!

Jennifer Sweete is the author of Dear Sandy: The letter that wrote itself into a Book (2015) and The Poet & The Widow (2016). She is a Certified Massage Therapist and Usui/Holy Fire Karuna Reiki® Master and teacher, a small business and writer’s consultant, self-mastery coach, musician, poet, and author. And they all fit snugly into the same hat! She’s currently serving her 2nd term as President of the Chaffee County Writers Exchange while assisting other authors through the processes of editing, self-publishing and marketing their books. She resides with her husband, grandson, and furry feline friend in sunny Colorado.

For more info, contact her jen@jennifersweete.com.

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