Reviewer Debolina Raja Gupta: Debolina is a writer and a poet, and was among the 2010 winners of an all-India competition for debut writing in literature and poetry, wherein she was chosen to present her writing in front of a live audience in New Delhi. She is an active blogger, especially talking about books, and was a participant in the online version of BEA, Armchair Book Expo America 2011. At present she is working towards publishing her first manuscript based on fiction, while working on the second one. In her spare time she feeds street kids in India and she is working to create more empathy in people for our little ones on the streets.
Author: Dale Stanten
Publishers: Infinity Publishing
Author: Dale Stanten
Publishers: Infinity Publishing
This is a memoir by Dale Stanten, describing her life during and after the 1950s in Jewish Boston, where she lives with her parents and elder sister. Dale’s mother is a fashionable lady who loves the many pleasures and luxuries of life, but unfortunately for her, her husband is barely able to provide enough to meet the demands of daily life. An intimate discussion with another disappointed housewife opens an avenue of earning her own money and rescuing her family from the verge of imminent poverty. She soon becomes a pro at her trade and earns a reputation. The memoir speaks from the eyes of a little girl who realises at the age of six that her mother is a hooker, and who, along with her elder sister who is six-and-half- years older to her, continue loving mamma and protecting her secrets.
Little Dale is barely six when she understands fully what her mother is doing. She opens the door to men who come seeking pleasures from her mother and learns to quietly stay inside her own room, even as her mother is busy ‘doing it.’ When Dale was too young to go to kinder-garden, her mother would ask her elder daughter to take her to school and smuggle her in the kinder-garden class so that she could carry on with her ‘business’. She was found out many times and her mother summoned, but she still continued making her daughters do the same. When Dale was finally old enough to go to school, she would often resort to tricks and try and be late for school, in an attempt to make her mother cancel her plans with the many men who Dale was sure would drop in the moment she went off to school. As Dale was growing up, she remembers having seen her mother ‘do it’ with her clients in their very own living room. Sometimes, a client would drop in even before Dale left for school, and her mother would ask her to go to her room. Dale remembers incidents when she deliberately opened the bathroom door, shocked at finding her mother and her client half-naked, hoping they would stop on seeing her, but her mother simply kicked the door shut and carried on. As Dale grows from a child to a teenager, she can see the changes in herself and can relate her behaviour to that with her mother. She becomes disrespectful towards her father, a routine behaviour that she has seen her mother use towards her husband, and though she is ashamed of herself at times, she can’t help it. She can see herself becoming different from other teenagers her age, and even though she wants to have the simple easy life of others, she finds herself caught between her mother’s lifestyle and her need to do everything to please her mother.
The book is a study in human relations and emotions. What little Dale experiences with her mother is a push-pull situation, the more her mother pushes her away, the more she longs for her and wants to do everything to please her and win her affections. Dale describes, how, for many years, this was a regular feeling she had, of trying to do everything that will make her mother love her as much as she loves her.
She becomes confused about her father’s attitude, who she knows is aware of what her mother is doing, but chooses to ignore it.
Dale constantly feels the pain of not having her mother to herself like other children do, but she has some solace in her elder sister who she is very attached to. When she reveals at the age of 16 that she is gay, this becomes a cause of contempt in the house and Dale is unable to understand the reactions of her parents, who choose to ignore the prostitution, but tell their daughter that being ‘gay’ is unacceptable.
It is easy to see the pain Dale suffered as a child, the humiliation and confusion she went through, even as everyone near her was aware of her mother being a hooker. But it is commendable the way she chose to share her experiences with readers. Her strength is visible in the fact that she went on to become a qualified nurse, and is today the CEO of her management company. She organised corporate events and conventions for international clients and conducted numerous educational seminars and assisted in developing a tourism college degree program. Today she is happy with her family and her lovely grandchildren.
Her story is about how to conquer challenges beyond those that have been made socially acceptable by society. A Must Read.
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