On the Ledge: A Memoir by Amy Turner
Publisher: She Writes Press, (September 6, 2022)
Category: Memoir, Dysfunctional Families, Mental Wellness
Available in Print and ebook, 256 pages
In 1957, when Amy Turner was four years old, her father had to be talked down from a hotel ledge by a priest. The story of his attempted suicide received nationwide press coverage, and he spent months in a psychiatric facility before returning home. From then on, Amy constantly worried about him for reasons she didn’t yet fully understand, triggering a pattern of hypervigilance that would plague her into adulthood.
In 2010, fifty-five years after her father’s attempted suicide, Amy—now a wife, mother, and lawyer-turned-schoolteacher—is convinced she’s dealt with all the psychological reverberations of her childhood. Then she steps into a crosswalk and is mowed down by a pickup truck—an accident that nearly kills her, and that ultimately propels her on a remarkable emotional journey. With the help of Chinese Medicine, Somatic Experiencing, and serendipities that might be attributed to grace, Amy first unravels the trauma of her own brush with death and then, unexpectedly, heals the childhood trauma buried far deeper.
Poignant and intimate, On the Ledge is Amy’s insightful and surprisingly humorous chronicle of coming to terms with herself and her parents as the distinct, vulnerable individuals they are. Perhaps more meaningfully, it offers proof that no matter how far along you are in life, it’s never too late to find yourself.
Guest Review by Sal
I couldn’t put down this memoir, and I will be thinking back on it for a long time to come! ‘On the Ledge,’ starts with the suicide attempt of the author’s father, and does not let up on the strong emotional context from there.
You see, at the age of 59, author Amy Turner was involved in an accident where she was hit by a truck while crossing a crosswalk. While many of us would take this as an excuse to spend the next few months in bed, Turner quickly returned to work and her regular life—maybe even a little too quickly. Although she insisted that she felt lucky to have only sustained a minor concussion, Turner began suffering from PTSD and contemplating the trauma in her life that led to her accident in unexpected ways.
It all began in 1957, when Turner was only four years old. At that time, although she was unaware of it, her father attempted suicide by threatening to jump from the ledge outside of his hotel room window. Turner’s father had to be talked off the ledge by a priest and the incident made the national news at the time.
It took years for Turner to discover what happened that day, and years for her to unpack everything that came after. From her constant distress about her father’s emotional state, to her mother’s dismissive nature and latent alcoholism, Turner ended up as a deeply traumatized adult. It took her accident and the time that she spent healing afterward (both physically and emotionally) for Turner to truly see how her parents choices had affected her.
An excellent look at families and trauma, ‘On the Ledge,’ is a real gem that I highly recommend. I can say that this book made me take a good look my own life and made me feel just a little more accepting of it and my parents as well.
About the Author
Amy Turner was born in Bronxville, New York, and is a graduate of Boston University, with a degree in political science, and of New York Law School, with a Juris Doctor Degree. After practicing law (rather unhappily) for twenty-two years, she finally found the courage to change careers at forty-eight and become a (very happy) seventh grade social studies teacher.
A long-time meditator and avid reader who loves to swim and bike, Amy lives in East Hampton, New York, with her husband, Ed, to whom she’s been married for forty years. They have two sons. On the Ledge is Amy’s first book.
This giveaway is for 2 print copies and is open to the U.S. only. This giveaway ends on October 5, 2022 midnight, pacific time. Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.
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Advance Praise for the Ledge by Amy Turner
“. . . an intriguing memoir . . . that many readers will find relatable. . . . A frank and engaging portrait of one family’s struggles with mental illness.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In lyrical and vivid prose, Amy Turner reckons with her family secrets and how they dug their roots deep into her psyche. With trauma as the inciting force, Turner courageously comes to terms with her past and present, showing us how choosing to lean into the scars can reveal paths forward. On the Ledge is a compelling read, told with grace, vulnerability, and depth.”—Rachel Michelberg, author of Crash: How I Became a Reluctant Caregiver
“This remarkable story of a woman’s journey toward healing after a random, shocking accident takes us back in time into the home of an unusual family and the seminal event that shaped them all. In peeling back layers of trauma and revisiting key moments from her past, Turner comes to a new understanding of what it means to be a daughter, a mother, a woman, and a seeker of truth. This is a riveting story of courage and redemption. And dare I say that parts of it are very, very funny?”—Hope Edelman, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Motherless Daughters and The AfterGrief
“On the Ledge is an extraordinary memoir of the way trauma harms both body and soul. Amy Turner’s near-miss with death at the age of fifty-seven propels her on a journey back through family history, leading to a new understanding of how her father’s attempted suicide and her mother’s determination to ‘move on’ has shaped—and limited—her since the age of four. Inspirational and beautifully told.”—Susan Scarf Merrell, author of Shirley: A Novel, now a major motion picture
“Absorbing, direct, humorous, horrific, On the Ledge explores the edge of madness as an artful memoir that also addresses two growing contemporary concerns: suicide and addiction. Timely, significant, well written, this is a courageous and engaging account, neither didactic nor sentimental, that belongs on school shelves as well as in the home.”
—Joan Baum, host of NPR’s Baum on Books