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Review Of Lauren Roche's Autobiography Life on the Line

Sequel to the bestseller Bent not Broken
Dorothy - 18/01/02

Two years ago I read Bent Not Broken and reviewed it with enthusiasm. As I re-read that review some of the thoughts in it seemed to fit with equal appropriateness in this review of Life on the Line.

"Who should read this book? .... Above all those who feel that there is no hope of a better life, so that their hope can be restored."

"I believe it can have a powerful influence for good because it is the frank account of the life of a woman who succeeds in fulfilling a seemingly impossible ambition after years of destructive experiences."

"I greatly admire the courage and openness she showed in writing about her life and in struggling on despite clinical depression during many of the down times."

A moving second volume on Lauren's life
Sometimes the second volume in an autobiography can be a disappointment. Not so with Life on the Line. If our hopes after reading Bent Not Broken were for her to be like Cinderella and have a charmed life living happily ever after, we are to be sadly disappointed. What she describes as 'the black bear of depression' is aggravated by difficulties with her elder son who used his undoubted charm to assist him, as from his early teens he descended into a life of crime, including sexual abuse of children. She is thwarted in her plans for further advancement as a doctor and has difficulties with relationships and with managing her money.

Despite all the setbacks she is able to write about what has happened with the frankness and choice of powerful detail which she demonstrated in her first book. She describes vividly how in one aspect of her life after another her world was collapsing and how she eventually attempted suicide.

If you find reading this account of a series of disasters and disappointments depressing, you could do as I did and dip into the closing chapters to read about Lauren's courageous return to a satisfying life as mother of Paulie, her younger son who has an intellectual disability, as a doctor working in sexual health, a writer and a public speaker. Then return to the account of the traumas.

Depression and how to cope with it
For a lot of readers one of the most valued parts of Life on the Line will prove to be Lauren's writing about depression and the best ways of coping with it. She says of this aspect of the book:
"In writing this book and talking about my own battle with depression I hope to help demystify the illness and bring it further into the open. There is a stigma attached to it. After publishing Bent Not Broken my own struggles became well known and a large number of people sought me out to discuss and seek treatment for this mental illness.... One thing I know first-hand is the singular determination that grips someone bent on suicide, and the paradoxical euphoria and calm that accompanies the decision to find a final refuge from everything."

The pain of seeing one's child involved in serious crime
Those who have had the painful experience of coping with a child who has become an abuser and committed serious crimes may be helped by her account of how she feels in this situation and how she copes with her anger about what has happened.

Worldwide success of Bent Not Broken
Bent Not Broken has become a best seller, has been published in the United Kingdom and has now been translated into German for release in Germany in March.

It is to be hoped that Life on the Line is read equally widely not only because the story is powerfully written, but also because its themes reinforce even more strongly the message of Bent Not Broken.

To quote the closing words of Life on the Line
"Strong now, I am looking forward to the second half of my life. I'm in charge and creating a life for myself that is healthy and good. It's not sympathy that I want, but I do want to earn respect. I have survived and tried to act with integrity. A victim no more, I have spoken out.

Beyond the pain, anger and grief there is hope."

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