The Open Book: A Family Memoir of Adventure, Trauma, and Resilience is told using the voices of three women: Roselle “Rosie” Madrone, Robin Detmer, and Kris Dutter. Kris, the mother of Roselle and Robin, embraces the dream of building a life outside the confines of the so-called civilized world and moves with her husband to the jungles of Belize, where she has her two daughters, Rosie and Robin, in an off-the-grid homestead they’ve established. Between memories of Belize and a return to California, readers witness the evolution of three lives that are interconnected but completely divergent. Each has suffered, and each speaks their truths as they reconcile their lived experiences and the shared discord brought on by the common denominator in all three lives in the person of Kris’s husband and Rosie and Robin’s father – Jeff. “As we’ve gotten deeper into this project, the emptiness I’ve long felt about Dad has transformed into real grief as I finally allow myself to access my long-submerged memories and feelings.”
Memoirs are extremely tricky to review because in most cases they tend to be written as a legacy even if the hope is for mass consumption. The Open Book is not a legacy memoir and is one of those engrossing reads where fact has the potential to be more riveting than fiction. What authors Roselle Madrone, Robin Detmer, and Kris Dutter give us has the potential to be almost cinematic. Kris’s origin story in Belize while young and in love with Jeff, surrounded by friends with the same desires, at least to start with, is the most intriguing. I also really connected with the contemporary lives of Rosie and Robin as they work through generational trauma. It’s gritty and gorgeous and heartbreaking and inspiring. For any reader who ever wished to see what the love child of Wyss’ Swiss Family Robinson and Ashworth’s Once in a House on Fire might look like, it’s definitely along these lines. Highly recommended.
“A life-changing book. How can one write a short review of such a vast and touching book?… You will not be able to put it down. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, because these ladies will write their way straight into your heart. Well done.”
“100% recommend this book to anyone who can appreciate a genuine, truthful story about family, love, loss, and healing! It is equal parts heartwarming and heart wrenching. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down!”
“A story of grace. This story is a must read for anyone that needs words of encouragement about facing life’s trials. Beautifully written and full of raw emotion evoking feelings of pain and joy and everything in between.”
“A raw, intimate telling of a remarkable true story. It kept me riveted until the last page, left me deeply moved, and wanting more. Compelling, engaging, both heartbreaking and inspiring. I highly recommend this book.”
“This book blew me away! I devoured the text, so curious what would happen next. This story is so unique, yet hums with underlying universal truths that make it relatable to any reader. It depicts strong women surviving and ultimately thriving despite the odds. The story paints vivid depictions of the jungle that made me feel enveloped in another world. Fantastic read.”