Book Review: Sunday’s Child by Anne Lyken-Garner
We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. ~Charles R. Swindoll
Sunday’s Child by Anne Lyken-Garner is a story of hope, courage and determination … it is also a story of extreme poverty, desperation and the appalling systematic abuse of a young girl by her grandmother.
Lyken-Garner’s compelling memoir is told from her perspective as a child from the age of 10 to 15 years and takes place in Guyana during the 1980’s amid an unstable political climate and economic crisis that has forced the country to resort to food and energy rationing.
The book draws you in from the very beginning with the author’s vivid portrayal of life in her village, harsh days living in fear of anything that might set off another beating, hours spent in food lines and long trips to the local bar at all hours to get drink for her grandmother. Yet the periodic journal entries she shares with readers also provide surprising moments of humor, compassion and remarkable resilience.
In fact, despite the constant messages from her grandmother that she is worthless and unloved, the author holds on steadfastly to both her intellect, and her capacity to love and to believe in a brighter future.
I highly recommend Sunday’s Child and am delighted that Anne has graciously agreed to a brief interview to provide some additional insight.
How did you come up with the title for your book Anne?
The title of my book was due to a mistake on my part, but once I found this out, I decided I liked the name anyway. There’s a poem that goes like this: Monday’s child is fair of face. Tuesday’s child is full of grace. Wednesday’s child is full of woe… etc. I tried to remember the poem when I was giving my book a working title and mistakenly thought that it said Sunday’s child was full of woe. So I named the book Sunday’s Child. Once I realized my mistake I had already grown attached to the name and thought it fit really well. My story after all, was not only about woe. It was about surviving despite troubles in your life. ‘Sunday’s Child’ by-the- way, according to the poem, is ‘bonny and blithe and good and gay’.
What inspired you to write your story now?
Some years ago, (2004) my husband and I were away in Ireland without the kids. We were chatting one morning after breakfast at our hotel and I was telling him the story about how I managed to get away from a psychopath, who chased me in order to hurt me when I was about 9. He told me I had so many interesting stories about my life, and that they would make a really gripping read. ‘You should write a book’, he said. When we returned home I started to write Sunday’s Child on his old, broken laptop.
Yours is such a complex story, how long did it take you to write your book?
I started on the 6th of January 2005 and finished on the 30th of January that same year. It took me 24 days to write all the content down. I went back and edited, added dialogue, descriptions etc. But then it took me more than 7 years to find a publisher J
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Definitely going back over the abusive parts of my life. They really affected me while I was writing them down. It was almost as though I was looking at a helpless, frightened (and I could still feel how extremely scared I was of my grandmother – even though I was no longer scared of her) little girl and going through all this with her. I felt really sorry – not for me in the present – but for her back then. I wanted to reach out and help her, but obviously couldn’t. It also appalled and surprised me that she could be so cruel to me. At that time my youngest, Mo was in a phase of looking exactly like pictures I’ve seen of myself when I was a little girl. I looked at Mo and thought, how on earth could anyone be cruel to her.
If you had to do it all over again Anne, would you change anything in your book?
No, nothing at all. I think it’s perfect the way it has turned out. It expresses exactly what I want it to say. I love Sunday’s Child because I think people will get so much inspiration from the story. It’s great and I’m extremely proud of it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and if so what was it?
I learned that you can make something sad sound funny if you tried. I actively injected a lot of humor into Sunday’s Child. I wanted to balance out the sad bits. I also learned that if you write your story you had to be prepared to re-live even the parts of your life that upset you most. If you’re going to let people into your life, you let them into the parts that you hate the most, and also those bits that you loved the most.
Anyone who’s read Sunday’s Child will surely be eager to hear more about your story. When do you anticipate Fair of Face to be released?
I’ve written most of the first draft now. It’ll take me some time to go back over it and neaten it up and add flavor and descriptions to the important bits. I think it should be ready next year.
In closing do you have any advice for other writers?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing it is to never give up the search to find the publisher who will treat your book the way it deserves to be treated. Too many publishers (if they can be bothered to reply to you) will ask you to make your story into what they want it to be, rather than encourage your vision of the direction you want your story to take. Of course, a non-fiction like Sunday’s Child can’t be changed in the way a fictional story can. Do your research for the publisher you think will appreciate your taste, your vision and your niche. Don’t compromise. Don’t be afraid to wait it out. But most of all, don’t give up. If I gave up in year 5 I wouldn’t be here today.
Thank you Anne for having the courage to tell your story, and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us today.
Thanks or your insightful questions, Marty. Thanks also for the privilege of doing this.
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