Book Talk: The Straw House by Rebecca Newbrey
Alcoholism, technically called alcohol use disorder, affects around 16 million people in the USA, as per CDC data. The condition's effects range from impairing individuals’ faculties to damaging their relationships with others, including their own families. Rebecca Newbrey has witnessed its harrowing toll firsthand, having grown up in an alcoholic household, an ordeal that she had to endure and survive for years. Now, she recounts the experience of living in "The Straw House," to show readers how one can prevail against such hardship to eventually find peace, healing, and wholeness.
We experience growing up in an alcoholic household through the eyes of six-year-old Rebecca. Through her we see how her parents' marriage is destroyed by her father's vice, resulting in her having to frequently change schools due to her mother's instability. As both parents remarry, Rebecca and her two siblings go through emotional upheaval after upheaval. With their environment in constant flux, their own growth and development likewise become based on precarious foundations.
Later, Rebecca's problems only worsen. Her family is once more on the verge of breaking apart, this time due to her mother's alcoholism. It is like an echo of the past, the continuation of the vicious cycle. Worse yet, Rebecca is abused sexually. She finds some solace in school, in her best friend D.C. School activities and food becomes her escape from her family's problems.
At this juncture, readers will see how Rebecca is guided towards healthier ways of coping and surviving by her teachers, these mentors who offer invaluable support and friendship. They become sources of strength that, in turn, help Rebecca to find her own agency and capacity to continue on despite the odds facing her, ultimately beating them and becoming a better person, rather than succumbing and continuing the painful patterns that have surrounded her for so long.
With her account, Rebecca shows us how a whole and strong person can emerge from “The Straw House.” She doesn’t gloss the ugly moments or blankets them in saccharine platitudes. No, her message of positivity is one that’s well-founded and earned, for she shows us just how people can pick themselves up from the lowest of lows. Healing isn’t easy, but it can be done with time and energy, and the individuals whose efforts help in making that painstaking process possible cannot be taken for granted. Thus, “The Straw House” is Rebecca’s own contribution to that effort at helping people recover, her own way of paying it forward so that others can get back on their feet and support as well.
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Rebecca Newbrey wears many hats; a poet, a musician and an author. Her poetry has appeared in At the Edge of Mirror Lake and various journals. Her first book, The Straw House, is a creative Non-fiction based on her childhood.