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Lifesaving Lessons'

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Linda Greenlaw's latest offering a touching tale

Many people dream about being a parent. There are entire marketing industries that feed off that dream. Photographers, toys, cribs and bunk beds. For Linda Greenlaw, it seemed as though that dream would never be realized, and it was something she was more or less at peace with. But her dream of motherhood was realized in a way she never expected when she became the guardian of a troubled teen who had been sexually abused by her uncle. This is the main topic of Greenlaw's newest book, 'Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother' (Viking, $26.95).

Greenlaw grapples with how the crime impacts her, her community and her perception of the community. This ultimately leads to her decision to not just become Mariah's guardian, but also her mother and all that comes with that.

But the book isn't primarily a look at the seedy underbelly of island life. Isle au Haut is home to Greenlaw, and her love for it shows, which makes dealing with the abuse raw and real. Greenlaw explores how the horrendous crime impacted her and her friends on the island. And the narrative of abuse is also offset by life continuing, as life tends to do. 

Greenlaw writes about all of the struggles in her life, from difficulties writing to making new friends on the island, including Steve and Kate, the owners of Black Dinah Chocolates. 

This isn't the first time Greenlaw has written about experiences that are personal to her, but it is the first time she's included her new daughter.

'The most important thing was how my daughter reacted to the book,' said Greenlaw. 'Her hope is that somewhere, someday, someone may read it and have the courage that she did to break the cycle of violence.'

One of the things that reverberates with readers is Greenlaw's honesty and her ability to impart the realities of her life without either a saccharine coating or a bragging bluster. 

One of the things that surprised Greenlaw after making the decision to take in Mariah was that she didn't like the teen.

'I like everyone. There are so few people I don't like and I didn't even like her. That was a surprise,' she said. 'Things are great now. Things developed in the right direction over time and it wasn't 100 percent bad. She didn't have any reason to trust me. Once that was established our relationship changed.'

Greenlaw is real. She is honest. And 'Lifesaving Lessons' makes for yet another compelling read.

She's been on a smallish tour promoting the book, but will be holding off the Maine part of her tour this summer. You can follow Linda Greenlaw on Facebook. Her book is available at all major bookstores.

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