Jean Tudhope wrote All I Lost as a Girl in order to tell the story of her sexual abuse and to illuminate the healing strategies she has uncovered as a survivor and Christian mental health counselor. Admirably concise and coherent, her story recounts specific episodes of her decades-long abuse at the hands of her father, brother and town church elders in her childhood home as well as in her church during ritualistic satanic ceremonies.
Following the first chapter, Tudhope pinpoints in a passage under the salutation “Dear Reader…” the exact moment in her childhood when she began to develop the tools of faith and prayer that were crucial to her resilience and enabled her to start a mental health counseling center. This, along with the organization of the book into three parts – Tudhope’s personal story, a checklist for signs of abuse in others and case studies – contextualizes her story of incest into an insightful primer on coping strategies and a critical analysis of abusive behaviors.
Notable in Tudhope’s recovery is her love of music and her hobby of raising border collies. Anecdotal information about these animals’ ability to heal through companionship serves as a subtle transition between the personal and professional aspects of the book.
Throughout All I Lost as a Girl, Tudhope references Christian biblical verses that she uses to fortify herself and her patients when confronting painful memories of abuse, which Tudhope says is the first step toward healing. She does not explain whether her approach translates well into non-Christian survivors’ healing processes, which may limit the book to an exclusively Christian audience. That would be unfortunate, because her comprehensive insights would enlighten any reader interested in mental illness, recovery and self-growth.
Also available as an ebook.