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Chasing Eden A Memoir

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All she wants is her parents' love and a chance to go to school. Her parents believe God wants them to stay isolated from the world. It seems their goals are at odds with each other. As Cherilyn's family moves from town to town, running from bill collectors and becoming more isolated, their housing situation keeps deteriorating until they end up homeless. When her mother All she wants is her parents' love and a chance to go to school. Her parents believe God wants them to stay isolated from the world. It seems their goals are at odds with each other. As Cherilyn's family moves from town to town, running from bill collectors and becoming more isolated, their housing situation keeps deteriorating until they end up homeless. When her mother declares they'll need to put their lives on hold until they can live like normal people, Cherilyn becomes determined to fix their situation--only to be thwarted by her father's control. Despite physical beatings, religious abuse, and abject poverty, her superpowers could ultimately set her free--if only she can figure out how to use them. Compared to Educated and the Glass Castle What Amazon readers are saying about Chasing Eden ★★★★★ "As someone who is obsessed with memoir, I can say this one stands with the best. Readers will see similarities to the fathers in Educated and The Glass Castle, but this in no way makes Cherilyn's story predictable. I was glued to my seat, fingernails dug in, going from tears of frustration to gasps of shock to being so angry that I wanted to throw my iPad across the room. However and delightfully so, there were also enough laughs and beautiful moments to get me through the saga of neglect and abuse." ★★★★★ "Riveting! Funny and simultaneously horrifying!" ★★★★★ "Emotional, witty, heart-wrenching, engaging." ★★★★★ "The author is a master storyteller. You will not be disappointed!" ★★★★★ "Such graphic word pictures that I couldn't put the book down." ★★★★★ "This is a book about the power of hope. While trapped in its pages, I laughed, cried, and dreamt too." ★★★★★ "This is a gripping, heart-wrenching, actual-factual, living nightmare!" ★★★★★ "I feel personally richer and more resilient for having read it." ★★★★★ "As a literary scholar, I was compelled by the fine tensions and suspense Clough builds in her memoir." ★★★★★ "This one spoke to my soul. Beyond words, reading this book changes you." ★★★★★ "As a trauma therapist, I will be recommending this book to my clients." ★★★★★ "Chasing Eden is the poignant story of a young girl's search for unconditional love and acceptance in a bewildering world full of contradictions." ★★★★★ "For readers who've appreciated the introspection of Educated, Clough adds another voice to understanding the way in which extremist beliefs are lived out in family life.


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All she wants is her parents' love and a chance to go to school. Her parents believe God wants them to stay isolated from the world. It seems their goals are at odds with each other. As Cherilyn's family moves from town to town, running from bill collectors and becoming more isolated, their housing situation keeps deteriorating until they end up homeless. When her mother All she wants is her parents' love and a chance to go to school. Her parents believe God wants them to stay isolated from the world. It seems their goals are at odds with each other. As Cherilyn's family moves from town to town, running from bill collectors and becoming more isolated, their housing situation keeps deteriorating until they end up homeless. When her mother declares they'll need to put their lives on hold until they can live like normal people, Cherilyn becomes determined to fix their situation--only to be thwarted by her father's control. Despite physical beatings, religious abuse, and abject poverty, her superpowers could ultimately set her free--if only she can figure out how to use them. Compared to Educated and the Glass Castle What Amazon readers are saying about Chasing Eden ★★★★★ "As someone who is obsessed with memoir, I can say this one stands with the best. Readers will see similarities to the fathers in Educated and The Glass Castle, but this in no way makes Cherilyn's story predictable. I was glued to my seat, fingernails dug in, going from tears of frustration to gasps of shock to being so angry that I wanted to throw my iPad across the room. However and delightfully so, there were also enough laughs and beautiful moments to get me through the saga of neglect and abuse." ★★★★★ "Riveting! Funny and simultaneously horrifying!" ★★★★★ "Emotional, witty, heart-wrenching, engaging." ★★★★★ "The author is a master storyteller. You will not be disappointed!" ★★★★★ "Such graphic word pictures that I couldn't put the book down." ★★★★★ "This is a book about the power of hope. While trapped in its pages, I laughed, cried, and dreamt too." ★★★★★ "This is a gripping, heart-wrenching, actual-factual, living nightmare!" ★★★★★ "I feel personally richer and more resilient for having read it." ★★★★★ "As a literary scholar, I was compelled by the fine tensions and suspense Clough builds in her memoir." ★★★★★ "This one spoke to my soul. Beyond words, reading this book changes you." ★★★★★ "As a trauma therapist, I will be recommending this book to my clients." ★★★★★ "Chasing Eden is the poignant story of a young girl's search for unconditional love and acceptance in a bewildering world full of contradictions." ★★★★★ "For readers who've appreciated the introspection of Educated, Clough adds another voice to understanding the way in which extremist beliefs are lived out in family life.

30 review for Chasing Eden A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Jo

    This story is a memoir of a child trapped in a fundamentalist family, and the damage done by being kept at a distance from all that makes up life. A timely book, and profoundly important, giving voice to the wounds of many thousands raised at the edge of nowhere, who now as adults continue to feel isolated and like they don't belong. This is a book written with so much love for parents who did harm while trying to do the right thing. As a trauma therapist, I will be recommending this book to This story is a memoir of a child trapped in a fundamentalist family, and the damage done by being kept at a distance from all that makes up life. A timely book, and profoundly important, giving voice to the wounds of many thousands raised at the edge of nowhere, who now as adults continue to feel isolated and like they don't belong. This is a book written with so much love for parents who did harm while trying to do the right thing. As a trauma therapist, I will be recommending this book to my clients.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marygrace A.

    What an entrancing book. This story is awesome! It is so real. I can picture the houses, and the holes in the walls with the wind coming through - you can feel the chill of the cold nights. I could also feel the love and warmth from her grandparents. They truly loved the kids despite her father thinking they were the worldly people. The grandparents were loving and kind. They took them in each time shelter was needed - no questions asked. Those times gave some normalcy to her her life,which she h What an entrancing book. This story is awesome! It is so real. I can picture the houses, and the holes in the walls with the wind coming through - you can feel the chill of the cold nights. I could also feel the love and warmth from her grandparents. They truly loved the kids despite her father thinking they were the worldly people. The grandparents were loving and kind. They took them in each time shelter was needed - no questions asked. Those times gave some normalcy to her her life,which she had very little of. I was so engrossed in the book that I couldn't put it down. The contradictions of the parents judging others continuously, yet committing fraud themselves is an interesting situation too. So many juxtapositions. It makes the book so fascinating. I love how her super powers stay with her. And the people who helped her along the way, they were real angels. I hope there is another book to tell us how she did in college and afterwards. Religious abuse is real. This book paints the picture vividly of some of the people who take the Bible literally, taking things way too far. Very enjoyable! Good read!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cherryashlock

    I couldn’t put this book down. I kept shaking my head at all the things this girl endured on her way to freedom! Truly inspiring!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    What most amazed me about this well-written memoir was the clarity of the child and adolescent voice it was narrated in. Quite frequently, a going-back-into-childhood story will be told in the words and cognition of the matured and knowing author. Cherilyn Clough has managed to keep a child-like simplicity and naivete in her recounted memories of growing up that has the uncanny effect of pulling the reader right back into those tender-- and often tortured--stages with her. Unlike Clough, I did no What most amazed me about this well-written memoir was the clarity of the child and adolescent voice it was narrated in. Quite frequently, a going-back-into-childhood story will be told in the words and cognition of the matured and knowing author. Cherilyn Clough has managed to keep a child-like simplicity and naivete in her recounted memories of growing up that has the uncanny effect of pulling the reader right back into those tender-- and often tortured--stages with her. Unlike Clough, I did not grow up with parents who practiced a fundamentalist Christian religion. I did, however, experience neglect, emotional abuse, and the disempowering injunctions around my duty to be seen but not heard voiced often by a personality-disordered parent. I found myself in complete understanding of the author's childhood and adolescent desires for friends and a normal, stable life that included a stimulating education with parental encouragement to plan for my future. The author has "special superpowers" that are endowed upon her, ironically, during a sarcastic rejoinder by a parent ("the memory of an elephant") and by her much-loved grandmother ("always tell the truth"). While her value of these special gifts helped her have an acute sense of self, even within a very restrictive upbringing (could even be labeled as brainwashing, although the author never uses that phrase), she was also shamed and scapegoated when she use these gifts in attempts to evoke some empathy and encouragement from her parents. Clough also introduces some wry humor-- "comedic relief"-- that had me laugh out loud following on moments of tension and despair. Her ability to summon up the memories of the dullest moments of her youth, along with the hope and despair and spiritual crystallization, really gives this memoir a life of its own that is rarely sustained in other memoirs about childhood spiritual abuse (and there are a lot of them out there, and I have have read a lot of them). Clough's story has the tension and energy to motivate staying up late to repeatedly promise oneself, "I will read just one more chapter."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather Haigh

    Was written in such an amazing way I couldn’t set it down. Received an advance digital copy from author herself in quartered sections. What courage to write such a memoir and I am honored to have been able to read it and feel so connected and proud of the author thru her unbelievable writing and way with the memoir.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Esther Recinos

    This gripping memoir speaks right to the soul as you walk in Cherie’s shoes, feel with her heart and see through her eyes as she struggles to grow up and find her niche in life. Without the guidance and support that every child needs, she longs for an education and...well, her story is a must read! I love it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Dykstra

    D. H. Lawrence, in his short story “The Rocking Horse Winner,” wrote of Paul, a vulnerable boy who was so haunted and crushed by the burden of his parents financial troubles that he continually, frenziedly rocked on a toy rocking horse. Back and forth he rocked, sometimes all night, trying to divine for his parents the name of a winning racehorse which he dreamed would free his family from their troubles. Cherilyn Clough’s "Chasing Eden", a coming of age memoir is the first I have read where the D. H. Lawrence, in his short story “The Rocking Horse Winner,” wrote of Paul, a vulnerable boy who was so haunted and crushed by the burden of his parents financial troubles that he continually, frenziedly rocked on a toy rocking horse. Back and forth he rocked, sometimes all night, trying to divine for his parents the name of a winning racehorse which he dreamed would free his family from their troubles. Cherilyn Clough’s "Chasing Eden", a coming of age memoir is the first I have read where the author sought escape from problems that overwhelmed her through a similar type of rocking. Her memoir tells us how, (though without a rocking horse), Cherilyn coped by frequently rocking back and forth. Her idealistic father prized the quintessentially American value of so-called ‘rugged individualism' and for religious reasons he desperately aspired to “live off the grid.” Except that, inconveniently for him, he was not alone; he also had a wife and several young children to consider. His dreams came with a price. Nevertheless, I think Cherilyn Clough’s memoir is unfailingly kind to her parents even as she struggled to make sense of what she and her siblings endured as the price of her parents’ pursuit of their mythic Eden. "Chasing Eden" is a moving memoir of a girl who blossomed into a woman when she learned to trust and value her own worth; an Eden much more worthwhile chasing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Womack

    Chasing Eden is the poignant story of a young girl’s search for unconditional love and acceptance in a bewildering world full of contradictions. From the very beginning, the author captures perfectly the voice of the young child and draws you into her life. As the story progresses, you can sense a developing strength of character as that voice matures. Much of this strength comes from what Cherilynn calls her “superpowers” and they will serve her well as she attempts to find her way out of what c Chasing Eden is the poignant story of a young girl’s search for unconditional love and acceptance in a bewildering world full of contradictions. From the very beginning, the author captures perfectly the voice of the young child and draws you into her life. As the story progresses, you can sense a developing strength of character as that voice matures. Much of this strength comes from what Cherilynn calls her “superpowers” and they will serve her well as she attempts to find her way out of what can only be described as an abusive home life. It is a story that is both heartbreaking and inspiring; told in such a kind and gracious manner that it stays with you long after the final page. Highly recommended!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Burkeen

    Abuse comes in many forms and all affect the receiver deeply. My heart cried out for this child for the hard lessons she learned as she tried to figure out how to be “good enough” to survive this journey her parents were taking them on. I am amazed at the love and respect she has as she shares this memoir. I found myself cheering her on near the end. Cherie’s story affects every nook and cranny of the soul!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Merry Herrmann

    Cherilyn drew me into the story in a way I've never been drawn in before. It was like I was right there with her. What she went through as she grew up and somehow managed to stay so strong is amazing to me. What a resilient soul she is! She did the best possible to make her childhood work. I can't wait to read her next book about how she grew after getting away and able to make her own decisions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen Everett

    A touching and true story... A story of how young girl navigates her way out of a chaotic childhood, to her freedom to be a strong woman. The story hooks you. I hope a sequel comes out soon. I really want to see where her life takes her...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gerald E.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Among themes that resonate with readers of fiction and non-fiction alike, the longing-for-home, and the realization of a parent's failable humanity are some of the most powerful. Clough's coming-of-age memoir grapples with both. The journey carries the reader along with the family as her father's financial decisions and fundimentalist religious philosophies steer them into challenge and peril instead of the safety he promises. At each point, young Cherilyn must wrestle the weight of her own drea Among themes that resonate with readers of fiction and non-fiction alike, the longing-for-home, and the realization of a parent's failable humanity are some of the most powerful. Clough's coming-of-age memoir grapples with both. The journey carries the reader along with the family as her father's financial decisions and fundimentalist religious philosophies steer them into challenge and peril instead of the safety he promises. At each point, young Cherilyn must wrestle the weight of her own dreams against the fears and cautions her parents weld as truth, and with which they decide the life-course of the family. Within the construct of personal memoir, Clough's account of her relationship with her father describes a bond that echoes in some of our favorite works of fiction. The traditions, games, and genuine moments of tenderness reveal a generous narrative, and one that can be trusted as the more difficult facets of his character surface in the retelling. This process reveals a man pulled and conflicted by attachment to his family, a dark and demanding religious framework, and an unexamined, unregulated ego that makes consistent love or reliability a credible challenge. The reader is treated fairly by this narrative angle, which allows a more kindly view of the father's persona than circumstances would sometimes seem to allow, and which allows the abuse and collateral damage of his beliefs and behavior to stand apparent, even when the child narrator is still conflicted. It's this exact childlike charity that gives this memoir its heart-breaking credibility. In the foreground of these dynamics, Clough also frankly reveals both the personal inner strengths possessed even by young children, which helped her survive, and the collateral damage such a childhood inflicts. Other aspects well-described and worth the reading in this account include the many ways in which the different members of a family respond and change around a charismatic but unreliable authoritarian leader. For instance, the mother's place within the dynamic is similarly unearthed as young Cheri becomes aware of her mother's history and those events which have left her mother prone to surrender her power and leadership as a parent and partner. Clough always shows, rather than concluding for her reader, the ways in which her family circumstances spark awareness, denial, joy and sadness, depression, acceptance and rebellion in herself, her parents, and her siblings. The description is fair and consistent with the pondering of a child, and as such is revealing and honest. Just as young Cheri compares and silently measures her family members and living conditions with what she begins to see and learn from people outside her family-of-origin, so the reader is equipped with tools for their own introspection. In a way helpful to those struggling to know how to recognize and help at-risk families, the frank treatment of Clough's memoir reveals the signals and also the inner dynamics that must be considered. For the context and enjoyment of the reading, and as a touchpoint as readers process a troubling family dynamic, Clough provides compelling descriptions of place and region, of simple joys, and of the shelter of help and love offered by grandparents, friends and neighbors who reached out to the need they observed. I was more than once reminded of the Rev (Mr) Fred Rogers' recollection of his own mother telling him to "look for the helpers" in times of disaster. As frank as Clough is in her witness, it is ultimately redeemed from hopelessness by the many who braved interceding on behalf of Clough and her siblings. Truthful as always, the results of help are a sifting, however, and Clough unrolls a tapestry of survival, not a rose-tinted triumph, and it is finally this fidelity to what we all experience in the mixed bag of our own family dynamics that lends Clough's account its impact. For readers who've appreciated the introspection of Educated, Clough adds another voice for those listening and trying to understand the way in which extremist beliefs are lived out in family life. This record of experience honors both the advantages and risks of our necessary religious freedoms, and gives insight into what we face as we strive both to help families and respect personal faith within those families. Clough's memoir will remind us all of how we are aggravatingly both the same and different, and renders a tender but unsparingly honest insight into the challenges of family and faith. Review by- Shelley Weaver

  13. 5 out of 5

    El

    “I’m afraid if you don’t stop obsessing over school, you’re going to become mentally ill.” Thank you to netgalley who gave me this copy to review in exchange for my own opinion! This was so good! It’s such a little hidden gem in the book world but I loved it! I’ve never really read many memoirs before but this read just like a story, I had to keep reminding myself that someone actually went through all that! It’s told so well & you can just really empathise with the main character - all the injustic “I’m afraid if you don’t stop obsessing over school, you’re going to become mentally ill.” Thank you to netgalley who gave me this copy to review in exchange for my own opinion! This was so good! It’s such a little hidden gem in the book world but I loved it! I’ve never really read many memoirs before but this read just like a story, I had to keep reminding myself that someone actually went through all that! It’s told so well & you can just really empathise with the main character - all the injustice, laughing & a little bit of crying as you struggle to check characters again your moral code when their real people. Full review on my blog!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This memoir is captivating, gripping your attention from beginning to end. I had a hard time putting it down for any reason. The author's style and skill draw you into each passage creating the impression of being present in each moment with her, possibly reliving aspects of your own childhood. Her parents' quest to find the desired spot to raise their family free from what they perceived as negative influences conflicted with financial resources and job stability, often drawing them away from l This memoir is captivating, gripping your attention from beginning to end. I had a hard time putting it down for any reason. The author's style and skill draw you into each passage creating the impression of being present in each moment with her, possibly reliving aspects of your own childhood. Her parents' quest to find the desired spot to raise their family free from what they perceived as negative influences conflicted with financial resources and job stability, often drawing them away from loved ones and lasting relationships with friends. While the children of the family longed to live a 'normal life' including opportunities for education, friends, and a permanent home, they were tugged along on a saga of sudden moves and upheavals into seclusion, submission, and suppression. The author has a remarkable way of presenting the pros and cons of her childhood, maintaining a loving attitude and desire to understand her parents, presenting glimpses into joyful moments experienced, while honestly disclosing the painful realities of many other moments. After one sudden move, she finds herself with her mother and siblings at an abandoned saw mill. While waiting for a solution to their homelessness, the creative mother has her progeny pretend they are at summer camp, moving through tent inspections to wilderness exploration with abandon, until the days of summer camp lengthen and the fear of the Persuader returns. Family get-togethers filled with fun and laughter, grandparents' connecting, coping mechanisms employed, and sudden loss all intermingle. The author’s family were believers in God, but a God difficult to understand, a quandary to a child who was told she must love this God who must be obeyed out of fear of reprisal, or One who would ask your family to lie to save face, a seemingly selfish God requiring unquestioning selflessness. As the years pass from childhood to coming of age, seeking independence of thought and longing for friends and an education increases just as surely as the months fly by. What will change or will anything ever change? Spellbound, you cheer on the teenager's growth, eagerly watching the ending unfold. I very much look forward to the sequel and sharing 'Chasing Eden' with friends and family!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Esteves

    The title ‘Chasing Eden’ conjures up the image of a relentless search for perfection and paradise. Cherilyn pulls no punches in telling her story of a childhood spent doing exactly that. As the oldest of four children born into a non-conventional, secretive, fundamentalist religious family, Cherilyn’s childhood was anything but ordinary or ‘normal’. From the opening paragraph, she takes the reader by the hand and guides us through the minefield of apocalyptic end-of-the-world time bomb scenarios The title ‘Chasing Eden’ conjures up the image of a relentless search for perfection and paradise. Cherilyn pulls no punches in telling her story of a childhood spent doing exactly that. As the oldest of four children born into a non-conventional, secretive, fundamentalist religious family, Cherilyn’s childhood was anything but ordinary or ‘normal’. From the opening paragraph, she takes the reader by the hand and guides us through the minefield of apocalyptic end-of-the-world time bomb scenarios that were her daily reality. Having grown up in a non-conventional, somewhat secretive and fundamentalist religious family myself, I was particularly interested in the way that Cherilyn picks out her own story, like a single thread in the beautiful mess of an intricately woven tapestry of coded imagery, and simply tells HER truth without minimising or explaining away anyone else’s experience in the process. Cherilyn is a gifted story teller. Her memoir is easy to read, but the context is often confronting. It is a coming of age story about the triumph of resilience over fear. About finding your voice and speaking your truth, despite the potentially eternal consequences of doing so. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it, particularly to readers who identify as having had an alternative or different childhood. I feel personally richer and more resilient for having read it. I am eternally curious though, and the ending left me with so many questions about what happened next that I hope there will be a sequel!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Disclaimer: I was provided an advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am familiar with parts of Cherilyn Christen Clough's story, because I am a member of an equality in religion Facebook page she helps run. I jumped at the chance to hear her story, and it is remarkable, both for the horrors she survived and for the determination she found in leaving her spiritually and emotionally abusive home. Clough's life story is not unfamiliar to fans of The Glass Castle, Educated, or Disclaimer: I was provided an advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am familiar with parts of Cherilyn Christen Clough's story, because I am a member of an equality in religion Facebook page she helps run. I jumped at the chance to hear her story, and it is remarkable, both for the horrors she survived and for the determination she found in leaving her spiritually and emotionally abusive home. Clough's life story is not unfamiliar to fans of The Glass Castle, Educated, or the many Duggar TV shows and publicity they hawk. I cringed at hearing her parents echoed in people I knew from church or denominational camp meetings or my own high school. Fundamentalism is unhealthy, and Clough unflinchingly unpacks its dysfunction and her own spiritual turmoil, as a result. Yet she also avoids trashing faith and spirituality, which is often a pitfall of the "quit lit" we often see from exvangelicals and ex-fundies. As a literary scholar, I was compelled by the fine tensions and suspense Clough builds in her memoir, as well as her internal thought process. She brings a mature, introspective voice to her life story, something that is missing in other memoirs. The end is hopeful and teases the possibility of more stories to be told, which I very much hope to read. Clough is a talented memoirist, and I would like to read her thoughts on a variety of topics. This book deserves a wide readership, so please give it a try when it debuts on Amazon shortly.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

    As someone who is obsessed with memoir, I can say this one stands with the best. Readers will see similarities to the narcissistic fathers in both Educated and The Glass Castle but this in no way makes Cherilyn's story predictable. I was glued to my seat, fingernails dug in, going from tears of frustration and gasps of shock to being so angry that I wanted to throw my iPad across the room. However, and delightfully so, there were also enough laughs and beautiful moments to get me through the sag As someone who is obsessed with memoir, I can say this one stands with the best. Readers will see similarities to the narcissistic fathers in both Educated and The Glass Castle but this in no way makes Cherilyn's story predictable. I was glued to my seat, fingernails dug in, going from tears of frustration and gasps of shock to being so angry that I wanted to throw my iPad across the room. However, and delightfully so, there were also enough laughs and beautiful moments to get me through the saga of neglect and abuse. It didn't take long for me to fully trust the author. Maybe this was the most impressive thing to me. As someone who is currently struggling with writing her own memoir, I was amazed by how Cherilyn managed to craft her story with complete control and without falling into the enticing traps of self-pity or rage--though she would be fully entitled to feel those things. This is a book about how the power of the good in the world, however small it appears at times, is enough. While religion and faith are portrayed in this book in both the best and worst ways, one does not need to be a religious person to be open to its beautiful message. I recommend it to anyone who is on their own healing journey as well as to those who just want a good read. I for one will be recommending it to all of my fellow book lovers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

    Heartbreaking and hopeful account of growing up off the grid in a fundamentalist family. Cherilyn's father didn't have a regular job. He had schemes. They didn't usually payoff and her family was poor. Sometimes they had to move in a hurry to stay ahead of the bill collectors (or play "frozen statues" when one knocked on the door). This, combined with her father's religious ideas, meant that her dad kept moving the family, more and more off the grid. They had to be ready for the time of troubles. Heartbreaking and hopeful account of growing up off the grid in a fundamentalist family. Cherilyn's father didn't have a regular job. He had schemes. They didn't usually payoff and her family was poor. Sometimes they had to move in a hurry to stay ahead of the bill collectors (or play "frozen statues" when one knocked on the door). This, combined with her father's religious ideas, meant that her dad kept moving the family, more and more off the grid. They had to be ready for the time of troubles. Cherilyn longed for a normal life-- to go to school, have friends and listen to Amy Grant. Just like everyone else. But her dad kept her from rock music, haircuts and going to school. Her mom never took her side and her dad kept order in the house with a mixture of religious shame, and the persuader, a leather belt hung on the back of his bedroom door. when she made money, through babysitting or other jobs, the money went to the family. She couldn't even buy school books. Cherilyn survived through her super powers: rocking, elephant memory, and truth telling. And through the love grandparents and the kindness of others. Parts of this story are hard to read, and would be hard to live through. But in the end, Cherilyn's love for her family, her will and God's care for, are her salvation. This so worth reading!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carroll Blair

    In this hauntingly beautiful memoir, abuse and neglect are not vehicles for blame or pity. Cherilyn readily gained my trust - as I identified with a precocious toddler whose spirit was cramped but not crushed. The vivid imagery caused me to flinch at harsh conditions and marvel that a spark of sanity survived the confusion of being trapped in a narcissist's web. I held my breath with suspense on this roller-coaster journey, a hard-fought battle for truth and wholeness, and took deep breaths at m In this hauntingly beautiful memoir, abuse and neglect are not vehicles for blame or pity. Cherilyn readily gained my trust - as I identified with a precocious toddler whose spirit was cramped but not crushed. The vivid imagery caused me to flinch at harsh conditions and marvel that a spark of sanity survived the confusion of being trapped in a narcissist's web. I held my breath with suspense on this roller-coaster journey, a hard-fought battle for truth and wholeness, and took deep breaths at moments of joy and discovery. Surprisingly, although God's name was used to justify bad behavior, the child/adolescent became discouraged but not cynical. Truth is a desperate quest and an astonishingly rare commodity in the small orbit this young girl inhabited. Her struggle to break free moved me deeply. As an avid reader for decades, I was almost as eager to move through the chapters as the author must have been to fulfill her dreams. If you're a survivor, you will be inspired. If you enjoy good writing, you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend this book that impacted my life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Cherie grew up in a home where momma let daddy do the thinking. Daddy was the only one who mattered, and he took full advantage. Cherie learned how to lie, cheat, steal, and hide—to protect her family. Moving constantly to avoid paying creditors, her dreams of a stable home, school, and friends were regularly crushed. Momma and daddy’s promises were as solid as the money promised to the landlord. Despite continuous setbacks, this smart little girl used what she had to make meaning of her life an Cherie grew up in a home where momma let daddy do the thinking. Daddy was the only one who mattered, and he took full advantage. Cherie learned how to lie, cheat, steal, and hide—to protect her family. Moving constantly to avoid paying creditors, her dreams of a stable home, school, and friends were regularly crushed. Momma and daddy’s promises were as solid as the money promised to the landlord. Despite continuous setbacks, this smart little girl used what she had to make meaning of her life and escape her family chaos. Reminiscent of The Glass Castle, this book is hard to put down! --Cheri Armstrong, MSW, LICSW

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura McVay

    When you combine the writing of a gifted author and the drama of her own compelling story you know you’ve discovered a good read! Chasing Eden, A Memoir is that kind of book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly K

    I couldn't put this book down the first time around. I'm reading it a second time because it's such an inspiring story. I can only imagine what it must have been like for a deeply sensitive, intelligent child with a passion for learning, to grow up in a family who truly didn't understand her, or seem to care that her spirit was being smothered on a daily basis. This is a glimpse into a world where fundamentalism, and narcissism meet. I felt like I was there, listening, and watching as Cherilyn n I couldn't put this book down the first time around. I'm reading it a second time because it's such an inspiring story. I can only imagine what it must have been like for a deeply sensitive, intelligent child with a passion for learning, to grow up in a family who truly didn't understand her, or seem to care that her spirit was being smothered on a daily basis. This is a glimpse into a world where fundamentalism, and narcissism meet. I felt like I was there, listening, and watching as Cherilyn navigated a minefield of extreme religious doctrine, and parents who often used a twisted version of that religion to control their children. It is also a tale of love and friendship. Throughout the author's life, there were kind souls, grandparents who loved her dearly and intervened as much as possible, and shared experiences with siblings. Ultimately, this is a story of perseverance, faith, and discovery of self.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Bigelow

    This book is a captivating telling of Cherie’s childhood. Reading this book is like hearing the author tell her story in person. As a beta reader I received advance copy of the book in quarters. I anticipated each section and couldn’t put it down. Written in such a way that the reader can feel each scene as if you were right there experiencing it with the writer. My heart ached as Cherie seeks her parents love and is denied it time and time again unless she holds to their standard. She is held b This book is a captivating telling of Cherie’s childhood. Reading this book is like hearing the author tell her story in person. As a beta reader I received advance copy of the book in quarters. I anticipated each section and couldn’t put it down. Written in such a way that the reader can feel each scene as if you were right there experiencing it with the writer. My heart ached as Cherie seeks her parents love and is denied it time and time again unless she holds to their standard. She is held back from finding her own identity for so long. Watching her evolve in her thinking through her interactions with those outside of her tight family circle is such an inspiration. Beautiful memoir.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Janet Brock

    Riveting! Funny and simultaneously horrifying! The author has painted a vivid picture of a childhood spent trapped physically and mentally in a fundamentalist family and her efforts to find normalcy. A must-read for anyone who has struggled with religious abuse or wants to help others who have struggled with religious abuse. But beyond these themes, the author is also a master storyteller. You will not be disappointed!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen Rohlf

    Not all childhoods are great! I have always known that I had an awesome childhood but after reading Chasing Eden a Memoir I appreciate my parents and childhood even more. It is an eye opener when reading this book what we all take for granted and how resilient children can be but at what cost. I think this is a great book for anyone to read both privileged and people with not so great back grounds.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karina Bresla

    This is a book about the power of hope. While trapped in its pages, I laughed, cried, and dreamt too. I loved its genuine plot, rich descriptions, and lovable characters. It’s one of those books you feel sad about finishing. It’s definitely a fascinating book waiting to be discovered. Chasing Eden will captivate you and inspire you all the way through!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Long

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This memoir about a young girl growing up in a fundamentalist family is hard to put down. The resilience of Cherilyn and her siblings is amazing. You can't help but cheer her on in her quest for live like "normal" families and eventually find her freedom.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Many people have buckled and never escaped the kind of total control of narcissistic parents and fear based dogma that Cherilyn faced. Her story is told with love and is inspiring to us all. I urge you to read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This book tells the remarkable story of a girl who was raised in a overly religious (the basic religion was male chauvinism with Christian overtones) family by sociopathic and fairly insane parents. The writing isn't too good, but what's most incredible is how much psychological abuse the author took from her father. It's amazing to me that she lasted into adulthood after the continuous trauma that she endured growing up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    "...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." This partial quote from C.S. Lewis came to mind while reading "Chasing Eden: A Memoir," a well-written book which transports the reader to experience life in a household with fundamentalist, ultra-rigid parents, and the numerous dichotomies that could have broken the author's developing mind and destroyed her love for God. Cherie walks us through her childhood, and we "...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." This partial quote from C.S. Lewis came to mind while reading "Chasing Eden: A Memoir," a well-written book which transports the reader to experience life in a household with fundamentalist, ultra-rigid parents, and the numerous dichotomies that could have broken the author's developing mind and destroyed her love for God. Cherie walks us through her childhood, and we see divine intervention as concerned adults able to accurately assess her circumstances step in to help with the utmost tact and diplomacy. The reader will be appalled at Cherie's father, who subjects his family to continuous poverty and homelessness because he refuses to seek employment. Her mother is not much better, as she simply follows along with everything her husband says/does. Despite the horrors Cherie endures, her love for her parents shines through. This is not a memoir of anger or hatred for what she experienced - she is sharing her story to benefit others. Every chapter leads the reader wanting more. I stayed up reading this incredible memoir until 2:00 am because I HAD TO KNOW the ending. Cherie, I hope you have plans to write part 2 and catch us all up to where you are now!

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