In Lessons from A Friend, author Ione Hepburn describes her personal struggles and the wisdom friends have imparted in a narrative that’s part memoir and part self-help.
Hepburn writes in clear, simple prose about growing up in the Bahamas. Raised by her grandparents because her mother was developmentally disabled, she was sexually assaulted in the home by more than one man, events that led to a lasting depression and a suicide attempt in her teens. One of the men introduced her to a stash of pornography hidden in his closet. Poignantly, she writes, “He shared his secret with me, but in return, he gave me one of my own.”
Each chapter centers on a lesson learned, usually from a friend or acquaintance. For example, Hepburn struggled with the friend who told her, “You are not special,” with regard to the abuse, but ultimately came to find the message liberating.
In another chapter, Hepburn talks about how she hadn’t felt her mother “was an asset in [her] life,” until her mother died. She then came to realize that she hadn’t given her mother a chance because she wasn’t the parent she desired. “We all have ideas of how we want to be loved. Some of us have created lists with ideas of those attributes that the perfect person should have.” Lesson learned? “People can only love the way they know how.”
Hepburn writes about her life earnestly and movingly. If she sometimes seems muddled in her thinking (e.g., in the abovementioned chapter, she draws a portrait of what seems to be an unloving mother and then claims that her mother, in fact, offered unconditional love), she is easily forgiven, as are the narrative’s handful of spelling and grammatical errors.
From her grim childhood to making strides in her personal and professional life, Hepburn writes with humor and heart. Ultimately, Lessons from A Friend is a relatable read that offers common sense wisdom readers will embrace.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.