Tinky’s Review: ‘Healing My Life’ delivers author’s promise to take readers on a journey

  • Tinky Weisblat

For The Recorder
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

“Healing My Life from Incest to Joy” by Donna Jenson (Levellers Press, 392 pages, $19.95)

Donna Jenson of Leverett has infused life experience, gentle advice, laughter, and enthusiasm into her new memoir “Healing My Life from Incest to Joy.” Jenson will read from the book at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 3 to 5 p.m.

“Healing My Life” delivers what it promises: a description of the author’s journey from incest survivor to joyful promoter of personal and social change. She delineates the various strategies she has embraced over the years to heal her mind and body.

These include therapy, yoga, building relationships, writing and journaling, and community outreach. A proud product of the women’s movement, Jenson has spent much of her career creating networks and support groups.

Over the years, as she has learned to speak out about her childhood abuse by her father, she has morphed into an advocate for incest survivors. She frequently performs her one-woman play, “What She Knows,” which dramatizes some of the information she presents in the book.

“Healing My Life” goes into more detail about her life and work. Its subtitle is apt.

Jenson describes many tearful moments. The tears stem not just from her father’s abuse but also from her family’s reaction to her eventual open discussion of her childhood. They also relate to health battles she has waged over the years.

Despite—or perhaps through—Jenson’s tears, her memoir expresses her happiness in living and her abundant openness to anything the world can offer to help her heal from her past experiences and develop as a human being.

The book will speak to, and help, incest survivors. Its message should appeal to just about anyone, however. Jenson’s descriptions of her various strategies to move forward are inspiring, and her personality is infectious. At the end of the book, I felt as though I had made a new friend.

Particularly touching for local readers will be her many references and tributes to her writing coach, the late Genie Zeiger of Shelburne Falls. Here’s how Jenson describes her first visit to Zeiger’s home:

“Her energy told me that I was exactly where I needed to be—in this house for writers, this kitchen for writers. Her spirit kept its arms wide open for everything and anything I had to say.” Clearly, some of that energy and spirit live on in Zeiger’s students and in this book.

For more information about Donna Jenson’s talk in Shelburne Falls, call the Arms Library at 625-0306.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and the forthcoming “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.” Visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com.