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Finding Mary, by Liz Leist, is a moving, compelling and riveting account of one woman’s struggle to
overcome a legacy of sexual abuse in childhood.

Engaging interest from the first moment, it opens with the terrifying experience of finding herself in a psychiatric hospital for ‘depression,’ where she is given repeated ECT, after the birth of her second child. The author is written off as a depressed patient with a ‘passive aggressive’ personality and problems adjusting to motherhood.

It is a story of a painstaking struggle to find a coherent self, cogent memories and a truthful
narrative of her life. At first, Leist is not even aware she has been sexually abused, only having access to terrifying images of shocking abuse flickering across her mind when she is in the persona of ‘Mary,’ her ‘Emotional Personality’.

As the story unfolds, each tautly paced chapter brings a new revelation, it becomes clear that Leist’s family of origin was swept up in a distorted and dysfunctional system around a narcissistic older brother.

Overall it comes across as a truthful account which does not give easy answers. Her ‘Finding
Mary’, who gives voice to what has happened, illuminates and deeply moves us.

Anne Manne

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