A while ago I put out a notice that I'm interested in hearing from local authors. Allow me to say how impressed I am by the talent we have right in the Capital Region. If I hadn't been invited to participate in the Times Union's Books Blog section a few years ago, I would have never have known - and that would be a tragedy after reading A Couch Named Marilyn: My Big Fat Mess Called PTSD by Diana Martin. (Niskayuna, NY)
This book and I have had our ups and downs. My laptop is considered 'old' at this point and so I had saved the book file to my phone. After three lost cell phones, - one stolen right out of my back pocket in Dublin - multiple software issues, distrust of the cloud, lack of time because of work and travel, and a complete resending of the book by a lovely man with whom I've been e-mailing, I was finally able to finish it. But I didn't want to finish it. I want to know what Ms. Martin is doing now, how she's doing, and I want to know that she's okay.
I may struggle a bit with descriptions like I do with a few other books simply because it's the kind you must read to fully experience and appreciate, and I don't want to give anything away. I understand that as a writer/reviewer it's kind of my "job" - but I'm not a professional here. I'm just an average reader like you who knows a good book when I read one, and then wants to share it with my friends.
There were a lot of people affected by Wall Street's crash in the early to mid 2000's. There were more who assumed, like me, those most affected were wealthy, upper-class, business men who didn't really have much to lose anyway and if they did, it may have been only a small dent in their bank accounts. This book proves them and me wrong.
Diana was very financially affected by the crash as her profession was flipping houses. She lived in Austin, bought small, beat up, bungalow type properties and then transformed them into lovely little homes. In 2008 with the housing market crashing right along with Wall Street, she found herself with multiple mortgages for the homes she owned, no buyers, and no way to pay those mortgages. One day a man shows up, knocks on the door of one of those homes for sale - and Diana's life changes forever.
Instead of being a saving-grace buyer, he turns out to be a monster in the worse sense of the word. Diana feels the gun to her head, her hands are zip-tied, and a ruthless assault ensues. From sheer will, she manages to escape her attacker and get help. Her details are real, truthful, intense, painstaking, colorful - but here's the thing - I laughed a lot, genuinely. Somehow and some way Ms. Martin finds a way through both the financial, physical, and emotional trauma to humor. I have to also admit I fell a little in love with Marilyn the couch.
The story doesn't end with her attack. In many ways it was just the beginning of her journey and as a reader, we are with her every step of the way. She is the girl next door, she is your Mom, she is your sister, she is not a mogul, or a multi-millionaire. She is every woman, and she could be you. We go on her journey through PTSD, the trial of her attacker, and the situations (a new profession, to name one) and the non-stop thoughts she must overcome to heal herself in every way.
When I put this book down, all I could say to myself was 'wow.' I feel so very sad this happened to her, yet also inspired by her courageous nature and all she went through to get to where she is now. As someone who writes about her own, sometimes painful experiences, I know how tough it can be to sit down and relive those moments as you type. And here's the thing - you have to write. Ms. Martin had to write this so that we can share in her journey. There are lessons here every woman will appreciate and hopefully take away a bit of strength to apply to our own lives.
A Couch Named Marilyn can be found on Amazon in the formats you prefer or subscriptions to which you belong.
As usual, I ask that you support our local authors because they are generous with their time and their work.
If you pick up Ms. Martin's book - please let me know what you think!