Have you ever started a book and been completely captivated from the very first page? Or even the first line? Have you ever started reading, and suddenly, you’ve read more than half the book in one sitting?
I know it’s probably happened to many people from my generation. We grew up with the Harry Potter series and Twilight—I can scarcely remember a day in middle or high school that one of those books wasn’t on a classmate’s desk in every single period. When some books are written, it seems to me that they are the books the world has been waiting to read—they’re the books our culture needs, for whatever reason. And the author? The world is thankful beyond words for what the author has given them, a unique gift for each reader that connects us all a little more.
Katherine Turner’s memoir, resilient, is one of those books. I’ve said it before about her—Katherine Turner is the author our world needs. I believe it just as strongly now as when I originally said that about her debut fiction, Finding Annie. The way Katherine writes transparently, colorfully, and evocatively is rare, and the manner in which she tells her early life’s story shows readers they are not alone.
The life Katherine was born into in 1984 wasn’t easy. As she explains at the beginning of resilient, her parents were ill-equipped for adulthood, let alone parenting. And when their issues—mental illness, addiction, and trauma of their own—started to interfere with their ability to care for Katherine and her siblings, life only became harder. Poverty worsened. Addictions worsened. Twice before her tenth birthday, Katherine was sexually abused.
When foster care intervened, although Katherine was placed into a safe, loving home, the journey she’d been forced to walk in early childhood didn’t suddenly change. Instead, her teen years were spent surviving further violence, including multiple sexual assaults, self-harm, and addictive tendencies of her own.
Through it all, Katherine was told she was resilient—for surviving so much, for performing academically as well as she did, and simply for the sake of being a kid, because “kids are so resilient,” as many quickly say, without acknowledging what that child may have survived. The word “resilient” started to mean something else to Katherine entirely, and over the years, she came to resent the term. resilient is her story of how that resentment came to be…and how that resentment finally turned in to a resilience all her own.
It would be easy for me to say I love this book so much because I’m biased, because I was one of the editors for the book. resilient first came to my desk in January of 2021, and Katherine and I worked through multiple rounds of edits together. Then, I helped her with the marketing plan for it. I think I’ve read the book six times in less than nine months, cover-to-cover, if not a couple more. And every time I read it, I find something else I love about it.
resilient is so much more than a memoir. It’s a guiding light. Like the butterfly on the cover—a creature that emerges from darkness into something beautiful—resilient is a symbol of hope to all of us who have survived those things that so many would prefer us to keep shrouded in darkness. Childhood abuse and neglect. Sexual violence. Poverty. Addiction. Depression, suicide attempts, and that aching loneliness and sense of failure that plagues many of us. Reading the story of how Katherine survived all of that and more, and then found the courage to write about it, sharing her story in the simple hope that it might be reassuring to someone else—that it might tell someone else they aren’t alone—is wholly inspirational.
It’s the book that every single person needs to read. Survivors, allies of survivors, those who work in trauma, and those who only know “trauma” as a word other people use. Of all the memoirs of survival I’ve read, resilient is the greatest telling of stories that should never remain untold. Katherine writes about such painful events in a way that puts the reader in her shoes—in her broken heart and in her aching soul—and it is an experience everyone should have. I believe resilient is a must-read because if we’re going to label someone with the praise of calling them “resilient,” we owe them the respect of knowing what experiences made them that way.
And Katherine’s experiences are incredibly similar to the experiences of many. I grew up in a different decade, in a different state, and different circumstances, yet our experiences are similar. The way she processed those experiences is familiar to me, the way I processed my own. And reading her words told me that I’m not alone. I know that if I can relate to pieces of her story, others will, too. This memoir will tell generations that they are not alone, and I believe that through Katherine’s message, our world will continue to change for the better.
With resilient, Katherine Turner has emerged as one of the greatest authors of the #MeToo Movement—and she soars.
resilient is available now. Click here to order your copy today.