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“Never Not Broken” by Yvette Cantu Schneider

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It is rare that I review books so far outside my area of film history, and I never write reviews in the first person. But this is different.

As a writer, I can certainly appreciate the emotional attachment one must have with their material. How, upon completing a project, it is difficult to let go of that which consumed your life for nearly a year. But I only imagine how difficult it must be to pen a personal memoir that forces one to dig so deeply into their own feelings, beliefs and experiences.

Yvette Cantu Schneider is my friend. She is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect, admiration, and affection. Her book, “Never Not Broken,” exhibits a strength and perseverance that I probably realized existed, but not in such alarming detail.

This book explores the author’s difficult childhood, confused sexuality, emotionally impulsive attachment to Christian fundamentalism, and the frightening cancer of her daughter with a candor that I might not have in the same situation. At some level I can relate. I was widowed at 29 and left with a young son whom I raised alone. But every person’s story is unique, and Yvette offers her own perspective to her situations.

What makes Yvette’s book stand out is how her writing, and her illustrations, reach out to any reader, despite his or her ability to relate or respond to the events as specifically. I would never write about my wife’s passing. My story is essentially like any other young person who was similarly bereaved. It matters a lot to me and mine, but there is nothing about it that makes it unique beyond that. Yvette’s story has layers of emotional depth that her writing confronts with remarkable bravery and insight. Her therapy, meditation, trial-and-error journeys, and ultimate triumph over all past demons make for compelling reading.

There is a certain irony about an author who discusses her fears by so courageously digging more deeply into her soul than most writers would dare. Yvette had a myriad of struggles. Yvette searched for answers in places that promised solutions. Yvette pulled back the curtain and found the phoniness of that which purported to be the best way of life. Yvette survived. And so has Erica, her daughter.

Yvette Cantu Schneider is one of the most remarkable people that I have the pleasure of calling my friend. Her book is most highly recommended.

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