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UNBROKEN Road to Freedom


Worth reading 😎

An inspiring story of self-discovery through breaking generational violence, and her triumph against dire odds.

Unbroken is a powerful memoir of one woman’s determination to break generational abuse. Regan’s impressive inner strength was gained through sheer grit.

The book opens with The Silent Agreement, unspoken statements of the voiceless. Strategic repetition indicates lack of personal power: when Regan finds her voice she flips the poem into statements of empowerment. 

The opening scene is of Regan running away to escape violence. She was thirteen. While not all of her childhood was abusive this was certainly the pattern. The book continues chronologically, from birth to present day.

Her parents were poor, prioritising alcohol and drugs. Housing varied with their ability to find work. As a teenager exhausted from caring for younger siblings, Regan was hospitalised with mononucleosis: the “extreme poverty meant ... severe deprivation of basic human needs like food, shelter, and health care”, something she internalised as personal unworthiness.

At fifteen, marrying “bad boy” Cain, the cycle of abuse continued. She “was too naïve to recognize it”. Cain’s violence escalated until she fled for her life, child in tow. After living in hiding Jamie enters her life: with stability and unconditional love she begins to heal.

Regan’s phrasing, particularly when describing her solace in nature, is evocative: “A simple wildflower with beauty and solidarity … knew how to preserve its petals by moving with the wind and not fighting against it”. 

She recalls contemporary hit songs playing on the radio at pivotal moments. These seemingly-minor details not only consolidate the timing of events, they foreshadow future changes in life direction. 

Design is attractive; layout, divided into four distinct periods with short chapters, is easy to navigate. However, the twenty-two page epilogue featuring continuous text would have benefitted from additional spacing and subheadings.

Regan is the first in her family to finish high school. She gained a university degree, then a doctorate. She founded schools which model pedagogy enabling at-risk students to experience success. She is a world-renowned educational leader, a writer and editor.

It is jarring, therefore, that this book’s editing is sloppy: passive voice is lacking (“kegs stacked against the hay bales”), incorrect homonyms are used (“loneliness bread anger”), and sentences include word choices which don’t combine (“Jamie’s dad planned wore a [Halloween] mask”). This results in clunky expression and impeded understanding. Regan’s passionate memoir, a worthy legacy and potential resource for the oppressed, deserves better. 

Unbroken is an influential story of triumph against dire odds. Its honesty is unwavering. Regan’s formidable power shines as she journals her incredible life story, where truth really is stranger than fiction. An inspiring read, especially for the vulnerable.

Reviewed by

My first book features my journey through depression and into wellness. I’m working on my second book, with enough material for five such books featuring poems and art. I’ve scoped two prose books and a picture book. My ability to transcend these ideas into reality depends on time-watch this space!


About the author

Dr. Kimberly Regan is a writer, editor, yogi, runner, education leader, & ed-tech designer. She started the first K-8 charter school in Nevada (1999). She has served in education for 25+ years. They featured her work in local magazines, a division of USA Today, Yoga Journal, & Harvard University. view profile

Published on August 09, 2020

Published by

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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