I recently had the privilege to read The Sky Isn't Visible From Here by Felicia Sullivan. This is no typical, lighthearted chic-lit. No Bridget Jones. This is real - far more reality than I have ever imagined. Books like this make me need to call my mom and thank her for being so...normal. For taking god care of me and making sure I always had everything I needed. And if you are one of my IRL friends reading this you are saying, "DAY-UM!"
Felicia grew up with a mother who was addicted to cocaine, alcohol and eventually, crack. She and Felicia lived with a series of me who encouraged her mother's addiction and abused both of them. Her mother began calling her "Lisa" at a young age because her lover couldn't pronounce "Felicia." Thereby, essentially taking away the girl's identity at a very young age.
In spite of all these obvious obstacles, Felicia managed to graduate from high school and go to an Ivy League college. There, she was determined to become a different person. She wanted to become the opposite of her mother - a smart, elegant, successful WASP who came from a good family. And she managed to pull it off for a while. Unfortunately, the demons came back to haunt her and Felicia fell into a drug and alcohol addiction of her own.
By the end of the book, Felicia, with the love and support of her step-father among other things, is overcoming those demons once again. She doesn't wrap it all up in a pretty package. She still has such conflicted feelings about her mother. She ends the book with a chapter titled "Before Cocaine" where she describes a trip to Coney Island as a young girl with her mom . It recalls a happy time where the day is all about just the two of them. Where Felicia feels her mother's love and protection. Even there though, she is afraid to tell her mom how much she loves her, for fear of ruining the moment. It concludes with Mom telling Felicia "You're mine" and Felicia chanting "I'm yours. I'm yours."
Bittersweet? Yes. But real? Absolutely.
I can highly recommend The Sky Isn't Visible From Here. With one caveat. You won't be able to put it down. Sullivan's heartbreaking story pulls you in and makes you long to hold that little girl AND to take the woman and shake her and ask what the hell is wrong with her. It's a world that makes me angry and sad and indignant. It makes me thankful for what I have and who I've had the chance to become. And it amazes me that anyone could convey such a life with the clarity and eloquence that Felicia has. I would like to thank her for sharing her story of pain and strength.
You can also read Felicia's blog where she continues to share herself and her life with us. You won't be sorry.