The back of the book shed a little more light on her journey - sexual abuse, drugs and alcoholism, as well as the prostitution. Eventually leading to salvation and a brighter future.
I really thought I had it all figured out. I thought these were the stepping stones in Geena's life and that would be that.
I was wrong. There was a lot more to her story.
As soon as I started reading this book I wanted to reach into the pages, pull Geena out, wrap my arms around her and tell her everything would be okay. That I would be there for her when no-one else was.
I couldn't though. This is Geena's story, her past, her history. All the events laid out in this book have already happened and there is no erasing them.
As I read along with Geena's story, I would sometimes forget I was reading a memoir. Geena (aka Sasha) would become a fictional character. Someone made up. A flawed character, the author had given the incredibly shitty end of life's stick too.
Then I would remember, Geena is a real person. She lives in the same city as me. I could have easily passed her in the street. I could have easily passed someone with a similar story to Geena's in the street and been none the wiser.
This book is full of raw gut-wrenching and blunt honesty. I commend and respect Geena for being so extremely brave in sharing her story. The whole story. Not the sugar-coated one. She holds no punches. She puts it all on these 290 pages. It really can't have been easy making the decision to put it all into words having kept it a secret from so many for so long.
And what a story.
It all starts off with her extremely dysfunctional family, of which sadly she knows no different. An abusive father, an indifferent mother, older siblings trying to escape and a younger brother she is trying to protect.
At the young age of 15, neither parental figure wants her, she ends up sleeping in a park. Her story quickly descends from here, into street living, half-way houses, abuse, attempted rapes, rapes, prostitution - both at home and abroad, cocaine, heroine, drug overdoses, jail time and emotionally abusive boyfriends.
There are flashes of hope mixed in with all the despair though. She attempted many times to get a proper education, finally achieving a double University degree. She attended AA meetings and kicked her alcohol addiction. She got clean after a drug-overdose scare. After trying about seven times to leave the sex industry, she succeeded landing a "straight" job in strata management and is now a full-time writer. She met and feel in love with the love of her life, Gene....and the rest, as they say, is history.
I wept for Geena and all the men and women who have had similar stories. I wept even more for the ones who aren't as strong as Geena and never reach the salvation and freedom she craved and finally got at the age of 37.
Because all she ever wanted was the freedom to be herself. Not Sasha. She wanted to be just Geena, flaws and all and she wanted to be loved for it.
Isn't that what we are all truly seeking - to feel that we belong and to enjoy the freedom to just be ourselves - Geena Leigh
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone to read. It is such an inspirational story of one person's struggle to reach their ultimate goal of freedom. She succeeded in turning her life around and if this book helps one other person in doing the same it was worth Geena's heartache in sharing her intimate story.