Synopses & Reviews
In the spirit of A Child Called "It"
comes an amazing story of resilience from a woman who triumphed over child abuse, cancer, and alcoholism to become founder of A Place Called Home. "I began life, it would seem, as some kind of Grimm's fairy tale creature, large and oafish, undesirable, grossly imperfect. Neatly penned in my baby book were the words, 'Debbie was a fat, unattractive baby. 'Fat and ugly aside, my life was fairly normal for a couple of years. It would be a while before the abuse began. Before the smoking and pills, the rage and rebellion, the alcoholism and cancer, the broken marriages.
In those first uncomplicated years I could have set out on any of a dozen different paths toward an orderly life . . . it was not to be. . . . But this is not a story of defeat."
This is a book about surviving. It's about hope. It's about how each of us-ordinary, imperfect, damaged-can dream and heal. This book weaves the humorous, often outrageous, always courageous tapestry of Debrah Constance's life. Voted Woman of the Year by the State of California Legislature for founding A Place Called Home, (APCH) an organization providing services to at-risk inner-city kids in South Los Angeles, she proves that anyone can rise above life's obstacles and make a better life for themselves-and others.
"The most compelling part of this book relates how Constance, who was named California's Woman of the Year in 1994, founded A Place Called Home a youth center in South-Central Los Angeles that has become a refuge for inner-city gang members and gives them a chance to turn their lives around. APCH delivers many needed services, largely thanks to the author's hard work and commitment. Those who come through the doors can sign up for art, dance and music classes, homework help, sports and access to computers. But the bulk of this memoir is devoted to the author's struggle to deal with her father's sexual abuse; her mother's characterization of her as a fat, unattractive baby; three failed marriages; other troubled relationships; alcoholism, agoraphobia, smoking, a bout with cancer; and a traffic accident that nearly killed her. The author became sober through AA, forged a successful reunion with her alienated son and is currently in a loving relationship with a female partner. Although Constance has clearly overcome horrendous problems to get where she is today and should be applauded for her work with troubled teens, the detailed, artless and somewhat simplistic account of each obstacle is more numbing than inspiring. (Sept.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
- Board of directors of APCH includes Will Smith, Jaida Pinkett Smith, Janet Jackson, Jasmine Guy and Arianna Huffington
About the Author
Debrah Constance founded A Place Called Home in 1993. APCH now offers its youth members many programs including an all-day school in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District; computer lab; music; art; dance; tutoring and mentoring. In September of 1996, with a growth in membership to 400, APCH moved to its present location-a 10,000-square-foot facility that serves over 4,000 children. J.I. Kleinberg is a freelance writer whose clients include individuals and corporations in the travel, healthcare, and design/print industries as well as a wide range of other businesses.