Reviewer Bani Sodermark. Bani has a Ph.D in mathematical physics and has been a teacher of physics and mathematics at the university level in both India and Sweden. For the last decade, her interests have been spirituality, healthy living and self-development. She has written a number of reviews on http://amazon.com. Bani is a mother to two children.
Author: Donna Carol Voss
Publisher: Vantages Books
A Prodigal Daughter
Whew! What a Memoir!
That’s exactly the kind of feeling that I got after reading this book. Donna Voss bares her soul in this extensive account of her life with brutal honesty. Without ego or self glorification she tells her story as an observer of her life, putting emphasis, not so much on the events that take place, as on the reasons and circumstances that led to her making the choices that she did, for those experiences to manifest. “Early experiences etch themselves into our soul throughout our life, they call to other people and conditions.”
The story starts with Donna mentioning her background as the daughter in a white, middle class family, living in a suburb in San Diego. The lack of intimacy and discourse within the family and an alcoholic mother grated on Donna as she looked for acceptance and emotional support within the precincts of her immediate circle, which was her school and her parents. She found it at the age of thirteen in a girl called Libby who was attending a typing class with her during the summer holidays. They both enter into a lesbian relationship.
Somehow the vibes between the teenaged schoolgirls are discovered and they are both exposed to a lot of derision and contempt from their schoolmates. The upshot is a decade long separation between them, which put its imprint on Donna, as she clammed up, refusing to disclose her own feelings, becoming, as she calls it, a “crocodile” with only her snout above the water.
A year in France, as an exchange student does little to change her “crocodile stance”, after which she begins her university education at the University of Berkeley. Here, the prevailing mood is liberty and free love and Donna goes into its throes head-on. The intellectualized values of liberty and sex attracted her and she indulged her sexual appetite freely, with both men and women. However, even here, she doesn’t find the uncompromising acceptance that she craves on a permanent basis in relationships that can only be described as tumultuous, though some women “three human angels” do come close for shorter intervals.
“In that moment, heaven touches earth”.
In this phase of her life, she explores drugs, gets married and divorced, while also getting a degree in psychology and developing an interest in tarot reading.
Thereafter, Donna gets a job as a health-care administrator. Continuing on the same lines as she did in Berkeley, Donna, ever eager-to-please, does far more than she needs to, while also entering into relationships with some of the patients. This leads her into dangerous territory with an ex-convict, from whom she is saved by another relationship with another lesbian called Coral. This relation is to continue until she has a dream which she takes seriously because it was so vivid. At this point, she is also out of a job, so she decides to break up her relationship and return to her parents in San Diego.
In this phase of her life, she heals her relation with her parents somewhat. She makes more acquaintances and these lead to a job where she meets a man called Gregg who is a Mormon. The firmness of Gregg’s belief in an unconditionally loving God in Heaven influence Donna very deeply and she begins a study of the Mormon cult. She meets another man within the Mormon community called Cary Voss, who is as different from her as is possible, but the attraction between them is too strong to deny. They decide to get married and adopt three attachment disordered siblings as foster children. Later on they move to Utah where Donna discovers a love for writing.
Bringing up the children is a difficult story in itself and the telling of that story is the last phase of this content filled memoir, before Donna moves on to the next.
If there is one thread which runs through the book, it is a healing by Cosmic Grace. It is in attempting to manifest “as above, so below” that Donna went full force into her life.
“I am a sucker for uncharted territory…”.
Her protection was her own truthfulness and integrity and Cosmic Grace manifested in its own sweet way behind the scenes, culminating in the advent of Gregg at an opportune time. This is a book that could make a diehard sceptic reexamine his/her beliefs in the existence of cosmic forces working for our benefit in the unseen.
This is not a religious book, nor does it exalt the Mormon church which suffers from its own contradictions. However, the basic sexual discipline that they impose, appears to have benefited Donna, as it got her into contact with Cary and later, bring up three foster children, in another very difficult phase of her life.
The sheer intensity of Donna’s story makes me give full marks for readability, as it chronicles the acceptance of the experience of “one of everything” that Life has to offer, the good, the bad and also what there is to come. Personally, I have read this book several times, each time I find something new.
This is a difficult book to recommend to all because many people would be shocked and appalled at the kind of licentiousness that Donna allowed into her life. However, those that do read this book would be touched by a blessing as they imbibe the import of the sequence of events. As Donna quotes from the story of Job in the Bible, “The end is greater than the beginning”.
Warmly recommended , with some caution.