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Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Street of Hollywood by Sheryl Recinos presents a childhood fraught with family dysfunction caused by mental illness and emotional and psychological abuse. The two formative figures in Recinos’ life were negligible participants instead of the supportive, loving parents all children need to grow and thrive into adulthood.
While this memoir takes place in the 1980s and 90s, we can only hope the services that support runaways and dysfunction within families have improved. For example, her father’s main go-to plan of dealing with his daughter was to commit her to an asylum instead of doing the hard work of parenting.
Homelessness, a significant theme in this memoir, is continuously in the news, an issue that plagues every major city in America, and occurs even in small towns and rural settings. Homelessness is one of those issues that many in America turn a blind eye to and ignore, but Recinos shines a light, bright and clear, on this issue, and knowing her story helps us understand this issue in a new way. It brings a face to embody homelessness and a possible answer to the question, why?
Why do people choose the street? Why do people refuse shelter? Why do some kids become flight risks? The answers may surprise you.
Recinos never places blame, of which there seems plenty to go around, never blames her mentally ill mother, who, during a psychotic episode, put her and her brother in danger. She never blames her father and portrays him as a figure that we can sympathize with at times. She never blames the legal system that failed her time and again, penalizing her but never breaking her spirit. And she never condemns any of the men that rape or attacks her. She doesn’t blame drugs or alcohol or any “friends” she meets along the way who rob her or worsen her situation.
Instead, Recinos tells the story of her teen-years with a pragmatic focus on the events. She never imposes her adult understanding of this world but focuses on her mental state at the time. What she produces is a raw and unapologetic story of a girl misunderstood, trying to survive in a world of neglect and abuse.
That she survives is a miracle. That she finds her way out of homelessness to become a successful contributing member of society, becoming a loving parent with no role model for such a thing is another.
Recinos breaks the cycle of abuse that drove her to the streets. She has become a champion of homeless teens. Her ability to see the injury she suffered through an unfiltered lens, and not accept it or be shaped by it, is why we love Dr. Recinos and her story.
This memoir is a page-turner, a tour de force, a blockbuster read that will have you laughing, crying, cringing, and hoping for something better for this young woman. You won’t be disappointed. Recinos delivers, and she does so with grace and talent. We highly recommend this intense and eye-opening memoir.