Angela Howard is a brave woman. Her memoir, Sin Child, shows that she achieved this character trait because she survived. Oh my, what she survived. And in the process, she clearly developed some serious internal strength. Nobody could beat it out of her, though God knows they tried. 

Her father was absent and her mother beyond neglectful. Her childhood is one adverse event (ACE) after another, including beatings and emotional abuse. Adults expected her to behave like an adult even before she was legal to drive. That’s a different and harrowing kind of abuse. While she encountered many warm and caring people, none of them were family members responsible or capable of her care. 

You wouldn’t expect a kid like Angela to win beauty pageants. But she did. You might imagine she had a church family to support her. But instead, hers encouraged her to marry way too young. She escapes many things, but never stops getting educated. Somewhere inside she knows that’s the ticket to freedom and self-determination.

If you decide to read this book, all the trigger winnings are necessary. Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, drug use, suicidal ideation, toxic religious belief, and even reptiles. It’s not an easy read. Still, Howard made me root for her. How could I desert her like so many others? No matter how many times she gets knocked down, literally and figuratively, Howard picks herself back up. It’s a remarkable story.

My conclusions

Pick this book up when you think life is hard. And then imagine being ten-year-old Angela, abandoned by her mother and left with her elderly great grandmother. Of course, she wasn’t on the street or in foster care. But every single adult told her that either outcome was always an option. Nevertheless, she persisted. 

I just admire the hell out of this debut author. On top of everything, she faced her traumatic stories and wrote them down. She’s not famous—not a blogger, reality show star, or influencer. She’s a medical professional—a nurse. And also, the founder of PTSD-ACED Foundation, Inc., which “… strives to bring increased recognition and early diagnosis of PTSD secondary to ACEs …”  She’s turned her own story inside out and now aims to make the world a better place. Fantastic!

If you like memoirs from people with buckets of grit and determination, this is the book for you. Please give it a go.

I suggest pairing it with books about ACEs like Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal and The Angel and the Assassin: The Tiny Brain Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. You might also try a fictional book pair, like I happened into with Long Bright River by Liz Moore.


Many thanks to Books Forward, Books Fluent, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review.