- Title: Elephant Girl: A Human Story
- Author: Jane Devin
- ISBN: 9781463525439
- Page: 362
- Format: Paperback
Written in three distinct voices child, teen and adult Jane Devin takes readers on an intimate, imaginative and often harrowing life journey Born unwanted and raised without love, the child author invents a rich inner life to see her through years of trauma Leaving home at 16, the teen author struggles to find happiness and a sense of place in a world that feels confusinWritten in three distinct voices child, teen and adult Jane Devin takes readers on an intimate, imaginative and often harrowing life journey Born unwanted and raised without love, the child author invents a rich inner life to see her through years of trauma Leaving home at 16, the teen author struggles to find happiness and a sense of place in a world that feels confusing and unfamiliar Then, years after stumbling into an adulthood mired in tragedy and broken dreams, the woman author finds herself at a crossroads The choice she ultimately makes is as stunning as it is brave.Told in unflinching and often lyrical prose, Elephant Girl goes beyond a singular life story to speak of powerful, universal truths and the ability of the human spirit to redeem itself.From the soul of a broken child and the heart of a resilient woman comes a story about turning imagination into possibility and scars into art Rosie O Donnell, Talk Show Host In a culture of bootstraps and bromides, it has become unfashionable to talk about the long term effects of child abuse and being raised without love or nurture Unlike psychologist Harry Harlowe s infamous experiments with monkeys and maternal deprivation where all his subjects ended up abnormal or dead from what has been termed emotional anorexia abused children are supposed to be resilient In fact, a significant number of people insist that child abuse isn t really that big of a deal and that such children will eventually enter into adulthood with the same knowledge and tools as those who were not abused, or at least be able to gain them quickly and easily Less acknowledged is the fact that there can be long term and even lifelong physical, social and emotional consequences of child abuse Oftentimes, the one affected doesn t even realize what those consequences are until well into adulthood High anxiety, hyper vigilance, thwarted sexuality and brain damage that went undiagnosed until the age of 46 were just some of the after effects experienced by the author of Elephant Girl A Human Story The story of Precious ends with her teenage years Jeannette Walls concludes Glass Castles as a college student In A Child Called It, Dave Pelzer is removed from his abusive home by age 12 and eventually finds a loving foster family In contrast, Elephant Girl A Human Story is about what happens when there is no clear path to follow, no outside guidance and no dramatic rescue when the only life saving graces are imagination, self determination and, ultimately, an undefeatable sense of hope This is not an easy story to read Those who enjoy reading about miracles or quick solutions will surely be disappointed Those looking to cast blame or buoy their belief that they could have done better will find plenty of ammunition However, those who are willing to see beyond the convenience and labels of bootstraps and bromides who believe that human experiences are diverse and complex will find much to relate to in this rarely told story.
Recent Comments "Elephant Girl: A Human Story"
“All stories are true. Some stories happened.” This is how I intended to begin this review. As I read Elephant Girl, from the initial gut-wrenching description of elephant training to the enigmatic conclusion, I kept reminding myself that even though this story sounded for all the world like memoir, it was really fiction. It was fiction with a political agenda of showing the enduring evils of child abuse compounded by the insanity of governmental and other quasi-support systems that have hol [...]
As is always the case when I submit an unfavorable review for a personal memoir - I want to emphasize that I am criticizing the BOOK, not minimizing the author's experience, challenging her perspective or memories, etc. The author reports horrific physical and psychological abuse and neglect - starting as a young child when she had no recourse, no choices, no way to defend herself, and absolutely cannot be held responsible for anything that happened to her or how she reacted to it. Although some [...]
“Everything seems so precarious and based on chance, and a whole life can change with one wrong or right turn, even if a person doesn’t know what’s wrong or right at the time.”Elephant Girl: A Human Story is an extraordinary and harrowing memoir by Jane Devin that I feel privileged to have read. Devin’s story is unlike anything I’ve read before, and the emotional response garnered from this story was unexpected. I found myself crying for the abused and neglected little girl of the be [...]
Very sad book. Very long. Very Sad. Started out totally engulfed. Her accounts of abuse, bad fortune and human struggle were enough to bring tears to my eyes several times. It's hard to imagine a life so different from your own.Midway through I started getting annoyed. This story is about a woman, and her struggle through poverty and personal issues, to which I am completely sympathetic to. However, not once in the book does she accept any kind of responsibility for anything. She was dealt reall [...]
Looking at other reviews, it seems people either loved this book or hated it. Unfortunately, I'm in the latter category. The book was confusing. It took me the first half of the book to figure out that much of her early life was based on a vivid imagination. UFO's? Praying to Joe? Difficult to follow. But most disturbing to me was the selective memory Jane/Darlene used in writing about her life. She was not her mother's favorite child, I get it. But the hate her mother seemed to feel for her, ev [...]
The most honest, heartbreaking and powerful memoir I've ever read. Someone else called it a "heart in a book" and nothing could be more true. Not usually at a loss for words, I'm having a very hard time articulating myself in writing this review. To have the ability to live through all of the anguish and despair and still find hope, love, humanity, to still hang on and get through is a perfect description of what it is to be human. I couldn't stop reading although I did have to take breaks to re [...]
Actually, I downloaded this book on accident due to misnavigating my Kindle. I'm glad I did. Jane Devin seems to have been born unloved. Perhaps the off spring of an affair, she's terrible mistreated by her mother and father and mostly ignored by her older sisters. She's labeled a problem child, spends a summer being drugged and molested and is brutally beaten during a stint in juvie for a minor offense. At 16 she leaves home out of desperation and struggles in poverty for the next thirty years. [...]
At least a dozen times while reading Elephant Girl I had to close the book, close my eyes, and simply breathe. From the first page I was taken in and swept along a rocky and bruising road via the graceful words and smooth prose of the author, Jane Devin, an extraordinary woman with a heart and perseverance that may very well put us all to shame.Was Elephant Girl an easy read? Most certainly not, and most certainly so. Her story made me ache and cry and it tapped on the shoulder of some of my own [...]
What a long, horrible, self pitying slog. Bleak and sorrowful and hopeless, hapless and worst of all, selfish. Every other sentence was the phrase "made me feel diminished". I found no hope and no beauty and no responsibility in this hideously overwritten book.
This was a generous Kindle freebie. I am the type of reader who has to finish a book out of fear I'll miss some great revelation in the end. The beginning of this book had me hopeful for that type of ending. It seemed that Darlene was working toward creating a future for herself despite her family circumstances. Then Jessica kept me hoping, and I was touched by the things she experienced and admired her growing power to overcome. I thought she was building toward a positive adulthood, especially [...]
I am all about true memoirs right now. I feel for Jane/Jessica/Darlene whenever something tragic happens to her in her childhood or youth. But I stopped feeling for her when she started to be an adult who kept making these bad decisions. "I got fired because I did so and so-and-so a favor", well after the 5th time its happened to you, stop doing people favors. She also bemoans she can't do math (Later its discovered its because she has possible brain damage), well guess what, if you cant do math [...]
Not all stories have happy endings, and not all lives are worth living. Elephant Girl is a memoir about the echoes of an abusive past that continue to ring out through a person's history. People in the book continuously tell the narrator, "the universe has a plan for you." But pain doesn't always have a reason, and dragging oneself up from poverty is anything but revelatory, or wholesome. At times tedious and slow, at times cringeworthy, I still read Elephant Girl in a few sittings. The narrator [...]
This book sort of wore me out. It was a tale of ups and downs - mostly downs. Everyone has them, but the way one handles them determines the outcome. I understand that not everyone is brilliant and can figure things out quickly, and that situations can make one depressed and feel helpless (been there, done that), but reading page after page of bad decisions being made, then wondering why things didn't work out was tiresome.
Just not an uplifting book; poor character development; Finished it because I kept thinking it would improve; it didn't.Don't waste your time.
Having worked in the social work field for 20+ years, I'm familiar with many of the events and struggles written about by Ms. Devin. However, I'm familiar with them from the perspective of someone who is trying to help others survive, not from the perspective of someone who is trying to survive. I have academic knowledge of child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, poverty, and hunger but I have never had to experience any of those issues first-hand. I hear accounts every day of people facin [...]
After reading this book I can't think of any words that would describe what an amazing person Jane Devin is. How brave she is to strive and continue trying to succeed in her life and then to share her story with the world. The story about her hard life as a child that only kept getting harder and harder. After she left home it seemed that bad luck and horrible things kept following her. It is truly heart breaking and emotional story that cannot be just explained in a short summary. It is so depr [...]
Raw, Real and RareJane Devin takes us on the ride of her life, in this phenomenal memoir, Elephant Girl. Truly, when I first started reading EG, I did not believe that it was her story. Really? I thought to myself, how on earth has she been able to pull herself together and put this on paper - and in such elegant prose?Rarely will you find a person who can not only endure the dark side of life, but can relay it in such a fashion that you jump on board and hold on for the trip. Like a cowardly ro [...]
"Let myself be who I am" the author says Jane is a blogger, writer, woman, mother many many labels but like the book says, this is a human story. The book is so extremely well written that you can't help but melt into her life and stories. Don't let the number of pages scare you, this was a two day read, not because it was easy but because I cared. In the last decade I've read many blogs but never read Jane's, and I'm glad because it goes to show that this will be a book for all readers, not jus [...]
A very real, personal story about reaching beyond what you were brought up for. It seems that the people who have the most unfortunate things happen to them become almost magnets for more of the same. The book really illustrated to me how vulnerable we all are. I wonder, though, how much of the author's perspective was skewed? How can one person run into so many evil ones in one lifetime? Whatever the reality, I don't doubt that Jane Devin has been through the wringer and I definitely admire her [...]
Hard to read for a few reasons. It's depressing. The entire story feels as if it's just going to end terribly. There are no redeeming qualities to any of the characters. Everyone treats everyone awfully. And the story itself is disjointed. I couldn't follow parts as it got really abstract. It's just a poorly written, depressing book. Despite all of that, it's engaging. I couldn't stop reading it. But I didnt finish it feeling happy or even fufilled. It was depressing.
Painful reading. The narrator lived an awful life of physical abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol. However, the writer seems to be boastful of her exploits and agrandizing about her abuse. She is a perma-victim and happy in that role. Painful, painful read. Skip it.
Anyone feeling their life is terrible should read this book. I'm talking of course about those certain friends on facebook whose every status has some reference to how their day sucked or nothing ever goes right, yadayadayada This book simply depressed me. The more I read, waiting for some glimmer of happiness, some realm of hope, the more depressed I became realizing it was never coming. While I really want to believe, and do believe this woman had a shattering childhood, it seems to me unreali [...]
I knew going into this book that it was going to be difficult to get through, just like any other story where a child is abused and gravely wronged, but I wasn’t prepared for the extent of emotions I felt while reading. I had to put the book aside a few times, to read something lighter, because I would start feeling very moody and sad after reading for a time. The events described in this story, especially the stories from Devin’s childhood and teen years, are extremely shocking and appallin [...]
It is easy to be skeptical of a self-published memoir. The genre these days is full of people who feel themselves deserving of their "moment in the sun" and looking for any way to tell their story.This is NOT a good description of Elephant Girl. Jane Devin's memoir is heartbreakingly honest. It is well-written. It is both realistic and unbelieveable all at the same time. I found myself marveling at the strength of this woman in her attempts to follow her dream as a writer even when faced with th [...]
This story pisses me off. Yes it does. It makes me want to throw my kindle at the wall and set fire to something nearby. This story is as real as it gets. The main character lives through some of the most tragic experiences known to mankind. This story is a reminder of how cruel human beings can be. Yet, in the midst in all of her pain, there is still a small sparkle of hope, of a dream and a wish. Her dream is to settle into a comfortable home next to a beach and to write stories for everyone t [...]
The opening was brilliant. Jane is a no-BS kind of a person, and when you read her story, you begin to understand why. She has tremendous insight."'Positivity can be a negative,' I tell her, 'if it's used to diminish events that should be cause for concern. Saying "bad things happen to good people" or "God doesn't give anyone more than they can handle," for instance, isn't necessarily helpful to the person to whom something bad happened -- it is much more beneficial to those who wish to be dismi [...]
Elephant Girl really touchingly describes a child's very harsh early years. It's tough to read but beautiful. It provides an interesting vision of the ways abused children grow to understand events that are outside their control. The story kind of fell for me apart near the end, when I started to become frustrated by the author's difficulty with learning better ways of navigating the world. Her view of the world turned on her identity as a victim of what were certainly some terrible events. Her [...]
Having grown up in a dysfunctional home, and having to deal with the consequences of that, I related so much to Jane Devin's story. I loved this book, even though the story was very depressing in some spots. I did think the author was very depressed and unable to let go of many hurtful things that she would be much better off just letting go. I feel I can say that because I have found my peace that way - and I hope she does, too.I also related to the era when she was growing up, though I'm a few [...]
I had no idea what I was getting into when I downloaded the ebook version of Elephant Girl. I stopped a few times. I almost didn’t pick it back up. Elephant Girl is as beautifully told as it is painful to read. It’s the most perfect blend of raw honesty, unique voice, human spirit and is uttterly heart-breaking. Told in three distinct voices (the unloved and unwanted child, the independent and fragile teenager, and the adult trying to make sense of it all) Devin shares the inner life she inv [...]
An absolutely heartbreaking tale of profound moments that stunned me speechless. I want to sympathize, but know that is not what the author wants to hear. Reading her story, broke my emotions apart time and time again with her brutal honesty. I'm truly amazed at her strength of character and reserve of courage to keep going, moving one step in front of the other into an unknown future, even after several attempts of falling back down, she still got back up and kept going. I won't give away the e [...]
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