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A memoir of growing up in a fractured, literary family, being seduced by a teacher, kicked out of boarding school, and then doing it all over again in middle age. In 1982, Erika Schickel was expelled from the highly prestigious Buxton boarding school in the Berkshires for sleeping with a teacher. She was that girl--the pretty, precocious one who got seduced, caught, and the A memoir of growing up in a fractured, literary family, being seduced by a teacher, kicked out of boarding school, and then doing it all over again in middle age. In 1982, Erika Schickel was expelled from the highly prestigious Buxton boarding school in the Berkshires for sleeping with a teacher. She was that girl--the pretty, precocious one who got seduced, caught, and then whisked away in the night to avoid scandal. But Erika's provocative, searing, and often funny memoir, The Big Hurt, asks the question, What really happens to that girl in the aftermath? Schickel came of age in the 1970s, the angsty progeny of two writers: Richard Schickel, the prominent film critic for Time magazine and Julia Whedon, a romantic, disappointed novelist. After her parents’ divorce in 1976, Erika was dumped in a bohemian boarding school and left to navigate the world more or less alone. The Big Hurt tells two stories: a girl coming of age unsupervised, her seduction and expulsion from school which led to decades of self-loathing, an insatiable desire for an all-consuming love, and an overwhelming feeling of guilt. The second is how that girl, grown into middle age, reenacted that trauma with a notorious LA crime novelist, blowing up her marriage and casting herself into the second exile of her life. The Big Hurt looks at a legacy of female pain handed down a maternal bloodline and the cost of epigenetic trauma. It shines a light on the Manhattan haute culture class and the atmosphere of neglect in the 1970s and ‘80s that made girls grow up too fast. It looks at the long shadow cast by great, monstrously self-absorbed literary lives and the ways in which women pin themselves like beautiful butterflies to the cork board of male ego.  The Big Hurt shows how one woman survived abuse and neglect, survived her own scandals to claim her creative voice and repair the legacy of "hurt" in her family tree so that her own daughters might grow up free of it.


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A memoir of growing up in a fractured, literary family, being seduced by a teacher, kicked out of boarding school, and then doing it all over again in middle age. In 1982, Erika Schickel was expelled from the highly prestigious Buxton boarding school in the Berkshires for sleeping with a teacher. She was that girl--the pretty, precocious one who got seduced, caught, and the A memoir of growing up in a fractured, literary family, being seduced by a teacher, kicked out of boarding school, and then doing it all over again in middle age. In 1982, Erika Schickel was expelled from the highly prestigious Buxton boarding school in the Berkshires for sleeping with a teacher. She was that girl--the pretty, precocious one who got seduced, caught, and then whisked away in the night to avoid scandal. But Erika's provocative, searing, and often funny memoir, The Big Hurt, asks the question, What really happens to that girl in the aftermath? Schickel came of age in the 1970s, the angsty progeny of two writers: Richard Schickel, the prominent film critic for Time magazine and Julia Whedon, a romantic, disappointed novelist. After her parents’ divorce in 1976, Erika was dumped in a bohemian boarding school and left to navigate the world more or less alone. The Big Hurt tells two stories: a girl coming of age unsupervised, her seduction and expulsion from school which led to decades of self-loathing, an insatiable desire for an all-consuming love, and an overwhelming feeling of guilt. The second is how that girl, grown into middle age, reenacted that trauma with a notorious LA crime novelist, blowing up her marriage and casting herself into the second exile of her life. The Big Hurt looks at a legacy of female pain handed down a maternal bloodline and the cost of epigenetic trauma. It shines a light on the Manhattan haute culture class and the atmosphere of neglect in the 1970s and ‘80s that made girls grow up too fast. It looks at the long shadow cast by great, monstrously self-absorbed literary lives and the ways in which women pin themselves like beautiful butterflies to the cork board of male ego.  The Big Hurt shows how one woman survived abuse and neglect, survived her own scandals to claim her creative voice and repair the legacy of "hurt" in her family tree so that her own daughters might grow up free of it.

41 review for The Big Hurt: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Though it wasn’t enjoyable for me I can appreciate it as a memoir. Others will certainly enjoy Erika Schickel’s jot down memory lane.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Silver_Neurotic

    I received a copy of this book from Goodreads. Opinions are my own. I don’t know how I feel about The Big Hurt. It would be easy to dismiss the book because I struggled to read it. It would be easy to say that it wasn’t very good because the narrative was all over the place. It would have been easy to decide that it wasn’t worth my time to read it because I didn’t like it. I have a huge respect for writers who choose to share their most vulnerable stories, but honestly, I just didn’t like this fo I received a copy of this book from Goodreads. Opinions are my own. I don’t know how I feel about The Big Hurt. It would be easy to dismiss the book because I struggled to read it. It would be easy to say that it wasn’t very good because the narrative was all over the place. It would have been easy to decide that it wasn’t worth my time to read it because I didn’t like it. I have a huge respect for writers who choose to share their most vulnerable stories, but honestly, I just didn’t like this for all the reasons I listed above.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I am not sure what the point of this disjointed and incoherent book was supposed to be, but the result is an extremely unflattering self portrait of Ms. Schickel. There seem to be two themes: abuse by her mother and abusive behavior by men in her life. But considering that she maligns and complains about everyone and everything in her life - both parents, female best friend, ex boyfriends and husband, social circles, professional circle - these themes are diluted and confused. Maybe it’s victimho I am not sure what the point of this disjointed and incoherent book was supposed to be, but the result is an extremely unflattering self portrait of Ms. Schickel. There seem to be two themes: abuse by her mother and abusive behavior by men in her life. But considering that she maligns and complains about everyone and everything in her life - both parents, female best friend, ex boyfriends and husband, social circles, professional circle - these themes are diluted and confused. Maybe it’s victimhood culture. Ms. Schickel describes a lot of really bad behavior on her part - which she ascribes to being a “victim”. At times she seems aware that she is re-enacting prior bad acts (including her mom’s) and that her own behavior is hurting others. Other times she is baffled, or furious, when this is pointed out to her. Sometimes, it seems she doesn’t even recognize her hypocrisy. Aside from criticism about the “message”, the book is just not well written. It jumps around chronologically and thematically to maintain interest, but ends up feeling randomly cobbled together with parts that don’t fit in. It doesn’t flow, and tries too hard to be clever. The stories and anecdotes are often peppered with gratuitous insults, lack context or explanation, or strain credulity. Ultimately, though, this book doesn’t know what it wants to be: Mommy Dearest with a not famous mother? A tell-all about her brief affair with a famous writer? Is it a #metoo book? 300 pages of victimhood competition? To me, it sounded like the sad ramblings of an insecure, middle-aged privileged stoner narcissist who goes to therapy three times a week, to a shaman, and does drugs to “find herself”. I cannot relate.

  4. 5 out of 5

    April

    Thank you to Erika Schickel and Hachette Books for a copy of The Big Hurt: A Memoir. I don't give away spoilers in my reviews. I sometimes hesitate to read any type of memoir because I always feel an obligation not to hurt an author's feelings or to cause them any pain -especially if their life has had significant pain already. I started The Big Hurt yesterday around 5pm and stayed up until 1:22am to finish it. I could not put her book down. Even when it fell on my face a few times as I started Thank you to Erika Schickel and Hachette Books for a copy of The Big Hurt: A Memoir. I don't give away spoilers in my reviews. I sometimes hesitate to read any type of memoir because I always feel an obligation not to hurt an author's feelings or to cause them any pain -especially if their life has had significant pain already. I started The Big Hurt yesterday around 5pm and stayed up until 1:22am to finish it. I could not put her book down. Even when it fell on my face a few times as I started to fall asleep. Erika is a real person so I can't say I loved the character like I usually can in a book. So I will say I relate so much to her. I related to her struggles with men, mostly. I think every woman who has had a history of dating "parasitic men" should read this book. It's not an advice book. It's about one woman who had that history, made the connections throughout her life and fought through them. That's not easily done - and is so admirable. Erika's book gives me hope, helped me understand mother-daughter connections and made me realize I was not the only woman who struggled with men. I wish her nothing but happiness and success in her life. She's certainly due it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Goldstein

    I had to stop reading at p. 32 when she said she felt “rewarded” by yelling at her little kids and making them cry. I don’t know what kind of person would think this, much less put it in a book. I’m giving it 2 stars because I didn’t finish the book and don’t think it would be fair to give it one on that basis.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The story was interesting. This girl had a lot of problematic situations in her school life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Guevara

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caja Leshinger

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lexi Martin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hachette Books

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bette

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chassie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Caloyeras

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zaspana

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Brenner Graham

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina (‪‬ ‪a_politicallyreadgirl‬)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Edens

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Spiegel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

  31. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  32. 5 out of 5

    Terri

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sundry

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  35. 4 out of 5

    wellreadtraveler

  36. 4 out of 5

    Carla (happiestwhenreading)

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kayla A.Jardine Bredwell

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ishani Singal

  39. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Krohn

  40. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Fleck

  41. 4 out of 5

    Meenal

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