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Memoir Review – Naked: Stripped by a Man and a Hurricane by Julie Freed

December 9, 2018

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I’ve just finished reading this memoir by Julie Freed. Before I start my review, though, I’d just like to say how much I like the cover. It seems wonderfully symbolic of the devastation that occurred in both her personal life and in the hurricane. I didn’t notice it when I bought it, but having now read the book, I appreciate the cover even more.

That aside, this is an extremely well written account of the double tragedy that struck Julie Freed. Just days before Katrina made landfall, her husband and father of her one-year-old daughter asked for a divorce, thus costing her a marriage. Then Katrina cost her the waterside  home she loved so much. It was completely and utterly destroyed and she, along with thousands of others were made homeless.

Much of the book covers the lead up to her divorce and it seems clear the marriage breakdown was foreseeable, but Katrina was not. I have to admit I was more interested in reading about the way Julie and her neighbours found strength and community in helping each other salvage what little was left of their lives after the storm (in her case, two small bins of belongings were the only items left from a complete home) than in the details of her divorce. I would have liked to learn more about the rebuilding and recovery of the area, about the efforts to clear the mess and debris, but I realise that the dissolution of her marriage was so interconnected with the storm, it could not be left out.

What was impressive was the way she managed to keep it all together with a baby, a dog and nothing but a car to call her own. (I was intrigued as to how she still had a car, but that’s a minor detail and maybe I overlooked it). Nevertheless, Julie admits she was one of the lucky ones. She had a loving family and good friends, all of whom were unstinting in their generosity and support. Her family were also able to offer her a home, which many others were not. As she points out, when families live close to each other, they all lose their homes in this kind of disaster. In the south, this is often the case.

The inspiring message about this book was that in the face of so much disaster, the love of family, friendship and community were the glue that kept her from falling apart or into depression and with their help, she was able to get on with rebuilding her home and her life. I am very glad for Julie that she has found happiness again and her story is a powerful one.

The link to the book is here

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