What Lies Within Reminds Readers How To Be Human
“When the storyteller tells the truth, she reminds us that human beings are more alike than unalike… A story is what it’s like to be a human being—to be knocked down and to miraculously arise,” said Maya Angelou. Libby J. Atwater’s memoir, What Lies Within, illustrates what Angelou meant.
This riches to rags to reality tale begins in New Jersey and portrays life in small town America during the 1950s and `60s. Fathers worked, mothers ran the household, and children were allowed to be kids. Atwater thrived in this idyllic existence, which ended abruptly when family secrets—including her adoption—were revealed. The comfortable life she knew rapidly dissolved and took her across the country to a strange new land called California.
With this move came many personal losses during pivotal years in American history: the civil rights movement arose, the Vietnam War grew, and assassinations abounded, taking the lives of a beloved U.S. president, his brother, and several civil rights leaders. These public losses paralleled Atwater’s personal losses, yet they encouraged her to never give up.
Excerpt from What Lies Within
I grew up in the 1950s—a time of secrets. . . . If my Orthodox Jewish parents needed to discuss something secret in front of my sister and me, they spoke Yiddish, until the day they figured out that I understood what they were saying.
The biggest secret in our house was that my sister and I were adopted. Perhaps it wasn’t a secret as much as a subject that never came up in daily conversation.
My earliest childhood memory is the day our parents told us we were adopted. I was about two years old, and I sat on one of the twin beds in the room Blanche and I shared asking, “Adopted? What does that mean?”
“It means we’re not really theirs,” Blanche replied. “Someone gave us away, and our parents took us home, but we don’t really belong to them.”
“Oh,” I said and continued as if nothing had changed. I was too young to understand what my sister meant and forgot this conversation until the subject arose ten years later.
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Excerpt from The Spirit of Villarosa
A Father’s Extraordinary Adventures; A Son’s Challenge Marc “Butch” Ashton April 5,
Marc “Butch” Ashton
April 5, 2001, 1:56 p.m. It is said that when a person is faced with imminent death, his whole life flashes before him, and he relives it in a split second. As I wait for the bullets to tear through my body, this is partly true. But it isn’t just my own life that tumbles in fast-forward mode across the screen of my mind. I also think of my dad. My father was Horace Dade Ashton—renowned photographer, lecturer, filmmaker, explorer, scientist,
My father was Horace Dade Ashton—renowned photographer, lecturer, filmmaker, explorer, scientist, student of religion, diplomat, and artist. In my moment of peril, I see his life flashing before me, inextricably entwined with mine as it had been for most of our lives.
In this world there are leaders and there are followers. My father was a born leader. He exuded confidence and always gave the impression that he knew what he was talking about. Horace Ashton commanded respect just by being who he was. As a boy, I observed how my father influenced others, how he persuaded them to think his way or do things his way, and how he entertained the ever-present audience parading through our house with tales of his adventurous life.
Judge in 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Libby J. Atwater tells her life story with aplomb….I appreciated the author’s way with words, her big heart, and her ability to incorporate so many characters and happenings in this memoir….Overall, Libby Atwater’s narrative charms and interests the reader, allowing the latter to evaluate his or her own life through comparison with the author’s.
Libby J. Atwater’s memoir, What Lies Within, is a must read. It’s a beautifully written book about family secrets, lost love, and hope. You will not want to put this book down. Libby writes about her childhood with her adopted family, her struggles, and growing into adulthood—an amazing journey that takes you to the depth of her emotions. I highly recommend this book.
We received your wonderful book yesterday and while dinner was cooking, I started reading it. My husband took a little nap and I didn’t bother to wake him as I was so totally engrossed in the first chapter. We finally ate around 8 p.m., and I finished the book this afternoon.
Thank you for sharing your life story. It reinforces what I always tell my children, it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you handle it that matters—and you handled it very well and turned out to be a lovely person . Your mothers must be so proud of you!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I picked up the book and started reading and couldn’t put it down. Some things I remembered but for the most part I had no idea about your childhood. What a childhood you had! I am so sorry for all that you went through, but what an amazing and strong person you have become. You are a terrific writer.
How you have ever gone through all those lives and not ended up with a nickname like the CAT I don’t know! Who knew??? Enjoyed the book and just marvel at the detail of memory you have.
I am the kind of reader who opens a book at random to make sure that it will be something I will like. Your prose is clear and grounded. It made me happy.
I went away on a small vacation this weekend to visit one of my best friends, and I was able to finish your book while I was away. It is so well written. You tell your story so eloquently and thoughtfully. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.
I couldn’t wait to start your book last night! The first few pages really grabbed me. I am a slow reader, but I enjoyed every word and can’t wait until tonight so I can read on!
I love the book! Page 24 reference to Ohrbach’s cracked me up. My sister worked there at the one in the Valley. Sometimes that place enters my dreams. I stayed up to finish your book! Really enjoyed it.
I just finished your book. It was a wonderful read. I love Bios and Memoirs. You have come through a lot of challenges in your life, and I can see it has made you very strong.
Please be sure to let me know when you have printed your second book. I am anxious to read it.
Interview with Libby Atwater, author of “What Lies Within”
What Lies Within
It’s a beautifully written book about family secrets, lost love, and hope. You will not want to put this book down. Libby writes about her childhood with her adopted family, her struggles, and growing into adulthood—an amazing journey that takes you to the depth of her emotions. I highly recommend this book. – Rauleen Weckworth