Day 3 already. How the times flies. Today, I am reposting a review I had done of The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughan. I am, however, adding an interview with it!! Yay!! I loved this book and just had to pick inside Lisa's head some. Thankfully, she is very easy to get along with.
So without further ado...Lisa Vaughan's The Gifted Ones:
I have issues with reviewing memoirs. So much so that I almost turned this book away at first. I think there is a lot of pressure to try and enjoy a memoir because it is actually the story of someone's life. If you don't like the book...was their life not good enough? Were thier hardships not entertaining enough to keep you interested? Was their story not heartfelt enough to make you tear up? These are the thoughts that go through my mind when I read a book about someone else's life. I can't stand the pressure of feeling so obligated to like a book, that I am not even thinking about the story as I read. It's a total turn-off. Luckily, Lisa had me so immersed in her story that I didn't even have a chance to think about that pressure. I was completely into the story and aware of nothing else (my poor children were forced into video games all day to keep them quiet while I read. Such good little monkeys they are). Lisa is a fantastic storyteller and I love the way she writes. Not only from the heart, but like a REAL person. She writes the way most of us think...except it makes sense. Love it!!
During a time when being gay meant being shunned by the world, a young Lisa met her soul mate and hung on to her principles throughout the hardships of hiding her relationship from the world; her parents, her friends, and later...her co-workers. Her life was forged before she even finished high school when she didn't see what others saw..."How could loving someone be wrong?".
From her parents not understanding her (and practically imprisoning her), to a little more understanding, to eventually moving out of home and beginning her life with her true love Lisa's view on her life never wavered. She had it all planned out, and it was to be great. Like most teenage dreams, however, life became a living nightmare. We see her through her rise to freedom and her party scene, to her undeniable confusion with her own identity and sexuality and her eventual fall from high to the depressing low. This is life. No pretty pictures. No hiding what's real. This is what I loved about this book. She tells it how it is. Nothing is as important as that.
One things that got me about Lisa's story was how she names herself and her partner, Selina, Special, Gifted, Prophets...living in The Place. I loved it. She took her relationship with another female, when they were young and living in a world where this was soo not the norm, and she put such a terrific spin on it. Like this was their time to shine, their special secret, their right above all others. This showed me so much into Lisa's personality and views on homosexuality. If only everyone thought that way then (and now, come to think of it), what a Place it would be.
You have to give it to Lisa Vaughn. She threw her entire adolescent experience, from the naive pre-teen to the fall-from-grace as a young adult, into this tell-all book. It is the perfect coming-of-age story for any confused youth because it takes us into the mind of a teenage girl in the midst of an identity crisis. It shows us what we can overcome if we stick with our beliefs. It tells us that life may not be what it seems from the outside looking in. What story is there that is more powerful than that? None that I can think of.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely without a doubt. I would read it again and when my daughter comes to an age where the language is appropriate (although let's face it...kids grow up too quick and know all about sex and drugs WAY too early for my taste as it is) this would definitely be considered a staple for her reading list. What teenager doesn't have the same thoughts and feelings Lisa had in this book? None that I know of. That's what makes it so special.
If you are looking for a read that is quick, easy and speaks volumes...The Gifted Ones if defintely a must-read. I have not read a more powerful and inspiring book yet this year, or last...maybe even ever. This is for sure a new favorite on my list...where will it place on yours?
And now, the interview:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself that we don't already know? Fun quirks or habits?
I bet if you talked to my husband, he'd have a whole list! I'm a Leo, so of course I'm very determined and strong willed – if you read the book, you already know that! But I do have two fears in this world. My biggest fear, by far, is losing my teeth! And my second fear is having to get stitches! Thankfully neither has happened to me yet, and hopefully never will!
Your story is incredible. What was the inspiration behind taking these tough moments of your life, and turning them into a published book?
Truthfully, after my mother's death in 2005, I found myself dealing with a lot of 'unfinished business' between her and I - a lot of anger still. In fact, I was surprised at just how much of a grudge I still held against her! So after many 'therapy walks' on the beach with myself, I started to untangle the ties that still held me down, and with that came an understanding for her actions, as well as Selina's...and ultimately mine. When I finally decided to write a book, and saw the words staring back at me in black and white, I had an 'A-HA moment', and that's when I truly understood, and was able to let go and forgive - once and for all.
What is your relationship with Selina now? Do you continue to keep in touch?
That's the best part of the story! Shortly after I finished my draft of 'The Gifted Ones', I knew I had to find her before I even thought of publishing - just to be fair to her and to make sure I had her blessing. I contacted her through an aunt who still lived in Indiana, and the rest, as they say, is history! We practically took off right where we left off, and have been in contact on a weekly basis ever since. We live cross-country from one another, but have visited each other on numerous occasions throughout the year, and have even met each other's partners - everything is cool! We truly are life-long BFF's, and I couldn't imagine my life without her at this point. I call her my soul sister, and plan on being in her life until one of us takes our last breath. I firmly believe she came into my life for a reason, and I do not plan on losing that tie again.
You are now married, with a family of your own...how does your husband feel about this aspect of your life and your decision to write?
Well, that 'little' piece of the puzzle was the only missing link in our relationship. I hadn't even hinted about my story throughout our 14 year relationship! Not because I was shameful or embarrassed, just mainly out of respect for his 'jealous' feelings he has had in the past for my other past relationships...I knew if he couldn't handle me talking about other men, he certainly couldn't handle another woman! In fact, I never told anyone until I sat down one afternoon with a good friend of mine, and my story just seemed to 'leak out'! She was actually the one that convinced me to write a book about it. That day she confirmed what I had known all along – that my story was special, and it had to be told. So that day I came home and banged out the first draft in two weeks! I had no idea, until I started writing, how pent-up my feelings really were! It felt so good to purge and heal – both with my mother and Selina. Of course the next step was to let my husband read it – and that was probably the hardest part of this whole process! But deep down I knew he loved me unconditionally, and thankfully, he proved me right. (Whew!)
In The Gifted Ones, you had taken a trip to Florida and mentioned that you felt like you were home. You currently live there now, did your life as a teenager have any impact on deciding to live there as an adult?
Funny thing...I actually wound up in Florida because I won a vacation on a radio station! I was still married to my first husband when we came to Orlando with my young son to claim our prize. Coincidentally, some good friends of ours had just moved to Sarasota, so we swung over to the gulf coast for a visit. I knew I loved Florida, and after our visit, the deal was sealed for me. Within a year or so we moved down also! So see, sometimes fate does have a plan for you!
Do you feel that your experiences, with Selina and otherwise, had a substantial impact on how you live your life today?
Without a doubt! No question about it! My experiences with Selina has made me the person I am today, for sure!
Growing up was tough for you. Looking back now, if you could, is there anything you would have changed or done differently?
Absolutely not! Like I said, everything that I went through - the good, bad, and ugly - has solely formed the person that stands before me in the mirror today. And you know what? I truly like that person! It has given me an insight that I might not have had otherwise. I know what its like to be an outsider, to be judged for who and what you are – or what people perceive you as being. If anything, my life has taught me empathy, and of course, acceptance.
If you could send a letter to your 13 year old self, what advise would you give?
Oh man...I would tell that girl to just hang on, it will eventually get so much better! Life is a marathon, not a sprint! And you will experience more love in your life than you ever knew was possible. And to not doubt yourself...you are experiencing all these things for a reason! They are forming the person you were meant to be! (Although at the time, I had NO idea! But what teenager does?)
Although today's teens live in a time where it is somewhat more acceptable to be gay, there is still a lot of conflict about it. Any advise for those living with that secret?
Yes, its hard to believe, but painfully true. You'd think in the year 2011 we would have this 'issue' settled by now! To me, its just as important as the civil rights movement of the sixties! We are SO past due! But I'd say this, just like I would say to my thirteen-year-old self – it truly will get better. I believe we are on the brink of putting this segregation of homosexuals behind us in the near future – it will happen with this next generation coming up, long after all the "extreme conservatives" are gone. It will be a no-brainer, I truly hope! I am counting on the teens of today to make tomorrow fair for everyone...and I believe they will.
Do you have plans on continuing with your story or was The Gifted Ones a one-time-deal?
Do you have plans on continuing with your story or was The Gifted Ones a one-time-deal?
You know, if there's one thing in my life I have learned (the hard way) is never say never!
Who knows? I'm an artist at heart, and self-expression is my breath...so if I find I have something to say worth reading, I certainly will! (And I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't already thought about it myself!) Remember, Selina and I have rekindled our friendship...so maybe, just maybe, a 'Golden Girls' edition may be in the works some day, so stay tuned! Lol
I want to thank Lisa for joining us and for letting me pick at her brain a little bit. I absolutely loved her story "The Gifted Ones" and fully recommend it to anyone!! It is powerful and inspirational!!
To get a chance to win your very own copy, simply leave a comment below and you will gain 2 extra entries into the Great Canadian Giveaway. One of the prize packs will include a copy of "The Gifted Ones" generously donated by Lisa herself!!