We first met Cookie, a pill-popping, alcoholic with five children from five different men in, ETCHED in THE SAND: A True Story of Five Siblings who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island (William Morrow) by her oldest daughter, Regina Calcaterra. Her only son, Norman, was spared her abusive tirades that included calling her four daughters “whores’ and “sluts.” Cookie would beat the girls, 4-year-old, Regina received the most brutal, once being tied to a radiator for days. These parts of the book leave the reader wondering how Regina grew up to be the successful woman we read about in the rest of the book.
Now Regina pairs with her youngest sister, Rosie Maloney to tell Rosie’s harrowing, yet triumphant, story of childhood abuse and survival in GIRL UNBROKEN: A Sister’s Harrowing Story of Survival from The Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho (William Morrow). Through it all, they had each other. Rosie, the youngest, is protected by her older sister, Regina. Their mother, Cookie, blows in and out of their lives “like a hurricane, blind and uncaring to everything in her path.”
But when Regina discloses the truth about her abusive mother to her social worker, she is separated from her younger siblings Norman and Rosie. And as Rosie discovers after Cookie kidnaps her from foster care, the one thing worse than being abandoned by her mother is living in Cookie’s presence. Beaten physically, abused emotionally, and forced to labor at the farm where Cookie settles in Idaho, Rosie refuses to give in. Rosie tries to get child welfare services to investigate her mother in Idaho, but Cookie is always able to put up a good front for their visits. Like her sister Regina, Rosie has an unimaginable strength—enough to get her out of Idaho and out of her living nightmare.
Filled with maturity and grace, Rosie’s memoir continues the compelling story begun in ETCHED IN THE SAND. Both sisters are able to write about a past that would have destroyed most of us down, certainly scarred us. Perhaps writing is part of their healing.
I remember being intrigued to read ETCHED IN THE SAND because I’m also from Long Island and the oldest sister. I found it so sad, but I also found a hero in Regina, and now Rosie, as well. Rosie was fiercely protective of her siblings when they were all young, and carries guilt for not doing more.
About Regina Calcaterra
Regina Calcaterra, Esq. is the bestselling author of Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island, which has been integrated into academic curriculums nationwide. She is a partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz and is a passionate advocate for children in foster care.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Publishing we have one copy of GIRL UNBROKEN to giveaway. Just tell us about a story you’ve ever read about child abuse and what you learned from it. We’ll announce a winner next Monday, October 31st on Halloween day.