Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light
by Nikki DuBose with James Johanson
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.
Her journey began as a young, introverted child with a florid imagination growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. By the age of eight she had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and had developed an eating disorder. The abuse warped Nikki’s self-perception and sparked patterns of psychosis, depression and destructive behavior that stayed with her into adulthood. In her early twenties she began working as a television host and started a career in modeling. Eventually Nikki attained success, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Maxim, shooting for editorials like Vanity Fair, Glamour and FHM, and appearing in campaigns for Perry Ellis.
Cast into a world of excess, superficiality, and vanity, Nikki traveled the globe and experienced the finest that the material world had to offer, all while feeling empty inside. Her disorders, addictions and mental health issues took her to the brink of mortality and only though a deeply painful inner-battle and her mother’s death was she able to reconnect the lost pieces of her soul and see the person she had so long rejected.
Her recovery from a nearly lifelong struggle with PTSD, psychosis, addictions and eating disorders has left Nikki with a passionate longing to help others who are also suffering by advocating for mental health and self-acceptance. In America, more than sixty-one million individuals are affected by mental illness. Child sexual abuse affects more than forty-five million people in the United States alone, yet it is still regarded as one of the most shameful issues to date. Eating disorders affect millions and are one of the most destructive and life-threatening mental afflictions today – anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness. Despite the extent of the suffering, eating disorders and mental health issues are poorly understood in popular culture and are often stigmatized, mocked, or even glorified because of misconceptions and ignorance over the seriousness of the manner. Although the modeling industry has made strides towards body diversity in the past couple of years, there is a lack of education and awareness surrounding eating disorders and other mental health issues. We believe that through the recent societal trends and improved sharing of information, we are beginning to break this paradigm, therefore another aim of this book will be to educate the public. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light will serve as a testimony to others to let them know that they are not alone in their fears, doubts, and frustrations, and that through recovery all things are possible.
Model and author Nikki DuBose struggled with a variety of mental health issues for nearly twenty years; all while forging a career in the demanding fashion industry. Her problems began in childhood, where she was emotionally and sexually abused, and as patterns of self-abuse influenced her choices and progress in life, she found her self in a puzzling juxtaposition between success and failure as she worked as a TV host and began her modeling career.
While on the surface she appeared to be successful, traveling the world and leading a life that seemed enviable, in reality her struggles with PTSD, eating disorders, and mental and physical challenges were never-ending and became life threatening on more than one level.
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light tells her story and illuminates the forces which contributed to her warped self image and the paths she took to emerge from her personal version of hell.
It’s written for audiences who suffer similar mental ailments and for those who would better understand and reduce the shame surrounding such struggles. Even though DuBose’s path led her to a religious revelation and spiritual focus, it’s not written for those who would receive a lesson in Christianity, but for any who would understand the various options leading to survival and recovery.
Readers should be warned that DuBose’s life is tumultuous and her memoir describes sexual abuse, graphic inappropriate actions upon a child by many of the adults who should have been protecting her, and shows how these familiar patterns repeat into adulthood. It also details the physical health challenges that entered the picture more and more often as DuBose continued to abuse her body and mind. It’s not an easy read: it’s filled with strife, angst, and agony.
It also includes some unexpected aspects, such as the author’s connections with paranormal phenomena and her insights about these events.
Readers who seek graphic, compelling memoirs that ultimately focus on victim mentality and how to recreate one’s identity and self image in a more positive light will find Washed Away goes further than most memoirs of abuse to chronicle the way out and the road to recovery, offering inspirational guidelines that will appeal to religious and non-religious readers alike.
[ reviewed by Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review ]
Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:
I have followed Nikki on social media for several years and have been inspired by her advocacy and life story, so when I found out she was writing a book, I couldn’t wait to read it and learn more about her journey! Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is her memoir, and she details the many traumas she endured both as a child and as an adult working in the modeling industry. I could not be more impressed by her resilience and her ability to revisit her experiences with such grace. She tells it like it is; there’s no way to just gloss over trauma and minimize it, but she writes in a way that evokes hope. I found myself rooting for her recovery as I read, and I couldn’t put the book down!
People who have had similar experiences will surely find solidarity in her story, and those who have never experienced trauma will gain an understanding and sense of empathy for those who have endured difficulties like abuse, assault, eating disorders, and addictions. This book sheds a lot of light on the modeling and entertainment industries too, and is another reminder that “all that glitters is not gold.” I’ve always heard of the pressures put on people in these industries, but reading Nikki’s firsthand account was even more enlightening, and reminds me that there is still so much education and advocacy work to be done in every aspect of society.
Thank you for writing this book, Nikki, and blessings to you as you continue your journey and seek to help others through your story!
– Amazon Reviewer Sarah
When a stunning runway model shamelessly illuminates her ugly profiles to help others she naturally becomes more beautiful. Nikki’s high profile advocacy for the sexually abused and those suffering mental illness will not only champion the plight of victims it will safeguard her own journey to recovery.
Kudos to Nikki for showing that we are all on the spectrum — even the flawlessly beautiful. Some are just fortunate to have secure childhoods and ride the curve to “normalcy.” Far too many have both nature and nurture to hurdle. Nikki’s mom, “Hurricane Sandy”, succumbed to this all to often fatal perfect storm. While Nikki has not only survived unimaginable mental and physical trauma, thru her writing she is carrying many to safety by combatting pervasive destructive stigma. Proving life is indeed what you make of it! Kevin DeBlasi, Esq.
– Amazon Reviewer maria f deblasi
Thanks for reading! Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!
Self Publishing Advisor