In Kathleen Pooler's memoir, "Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse," readers are introduced to Pooler, who in spite of a "good" childhood, was in two abusive marriages before she found the strength to stand on her own.
In this well-written and touching memoir, Pooler shows readers that in spite of past choices, it's never too late to make healthy decisions for yourself and your family.
The book opens during Pooler's second marriage to Dan, a man whose verbal abuse escalates to the point where she is sure it will turn physical. While Dan is at work one day, Pooler collects her two school-aged children and flees to a friend's house, where he quickly finds her and tries to talk her back into the marriage.
She writes, "Even though I told Dan I would not be coming back despite his pleas to reconsider, when I returned to the couch, Carol said, 'You'll do it again,' nodding with certainty." After Pooler asked her friend what she meant, Carol continued that she thought Pooler would not change — she would find someone else just like Dan.
"Would I really do it again — choose the type of man who would put my mental health and my children's welfare at risk?" she writes. "How had I, a woman who had known nothing but love and security when I was growing up, ended up escaping in the middle of the day from a man who had threatened our mental and physical safety?"
That's the conundrum "Ever Faithful to His Lead" explores. When readers finish this honest and heartfelt look at Pooler's personal life choices, they will feel they know her intimately, but they will also be able to examine their own life choices and why they are in the relationships they are.
After the introductory chapters, Pooler explores her childhood, her first loves, her first marriage and more — the whole book searching for the answers of how she veered away from her faith and her upbringing to the men she chose to marry.
Through ups and downs, Pooler's overall message is that in any situation you may find yourself, there is hope. She stated in an interview with WOW! Women On Writing: "No matter how bad things may seem, it is possible to climb out of the abyss of poor decisions and lead a joyful life."
Pooler's memoir ends in 1992, when she is dating again after her second divorce. What's amazing about this book is that Pooler recognizes her role in choosing the "wrong" kind of man and shows readers, how when dating again after self-reflection, she notices red flags and will not repeat her same mistakes. She also renews her faith in God and prayer.
"Ever Faithful to His Lead" would make a great book group selection, and it comes complete with book discussion questions and practical ways to help women seeking freedom from abuse. These suggestions range from reviewing the book, to loaning it to a friend, to purchasing it, as part of the proceeds go to The National Coalition of Domestic Violence Awareness Association.
Pooler is working on a sequel to her memoir, titled "Hope Matters: A Memoir." She is a retired Family Nurse Practitioner, has also had short pieces published in anthologies and writes on her Memoir Writer's Journey blog at krpooler.com. She currently lives with her husband, Wayne, in eastern New York.
One of the best things about memoirs is that readers can often see themselves in the pages of someone else's story. Many women will surely feel the message of hope and faith that Pooler has written here.
Margo L. Dill is celebrating the release of her second novel, "Caught Between Two Curses," a young-adult novel exploring love, family and the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Cubs. She also is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She lives in St. Louis with her family.