Born in the August heat of New Orleans in 1938, Charlotte Gober Czekala was raised on good ol’ Americana: hot fudge sundaes at the corner drugstore, evening radio dramas like Amos ‘n’ Andy, and catching lightning bugs in mason jars. “Life was good,” as Czekala loves to recall. But after a joyful childhood, Charlotte faced darker years struggling to help her drug-addicted sons find lasting sobriety. I Am Charlotte is a testament of Christian faith, encouraging Czekala’s future generations that “even though the trials have been painful…they served as faith builders.”
Czekala loves sports. Her father’s approval of her athleticism fostered her tenacity to conquer goals. Yet as an adult, she was helpless to save her sons from addictions. Though her early efforts failed, she made a powerful discovery: “I had been playing God because I thought I knew what was best for everyone.” Czekala surrendered her sons to Jesus, and they were set free.
At this moment, the book begins to evolve from a family keepsake of personal memories with photos into a testimony of faith and hope of wider appeal. Families battling addictions will be interested in Czekala’s experiences with drug rehabilitation. She started New Freedom Lodge (a drug treatment program for teens) and the first Nar-Anon east of the Mississippi; she served on the governor’s advisory board, and even rubbed elbows with Nancy Reagan during her “Just Say No” campaign. Some readers might wish for more detailed advice on how to help addicted loved ones, information the memoir narrative style prevents. Perhaps a second book detailing more fully how she and her sons triumphed over addiction would be in order.
Regardless, this memoir offers much to appreciate. While readers may have trouble keeping the names of Czekala’s relations straight, it is well written and polished, joyful and uplifting. I Am Charlotte is a treasure for Czekala’s family and may be a voice of hope for families burdened with addiction.
Also available in hardcover.