Boot Language – Review

Many thanks to BookSparks for providing a copy of Boot Language for review!

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Boot Language by Vanya Erickson is an incredibly powerful read! Readers are taken back to the author’s first moments in life, covered in blood with her devout Christian Scientist mother refusing to call for help. This quick read is such an interesting look into the psychology of a family. The parts creating the whole were each unique and fascinating to behold through the eyes of the author. In many ways, this memoir of Vanya’s life gave me a glimpse into the memories of my own childhood. Though her life was vastly different from my own, certain character traits in her parents and within Vanya herself were quite similar to those of myself and my family. Even down to the actual “boot language” or the cadence of her father’s steps in her home revealing his mood that particular day, was reminiscent of feelings I’ve experienced as a child myself. I appreciated the chance to empathize with the author and feel a sense of solidarity, knowing I wasn’t completely alone in things I’ve experienced in life.

My favorite thing about reading this was being able to understand the conflicting feelings Vanya held about her parents. She felt love and had numerous good memories and enjoyable moments with both of her parents, but as many abuse victims know, there are many negative emotions and feelings associated with the memories as well. The author was able to write this in a visceral way, allowing readers to truly experience the topsy-turvy emotions themselves. Not only was I able to understand the story from a child’s point of view, I was also able to reflect on Vanya’s story as a parent myself. I think as a parent, it truly made some of the treatment the author received even more mind-boggling and hard to fathom.

This is at times an intense read, but a book I’m glad I was able to experience. I love being able to see the world through someone else’s eyes, allowing me a new perspective on the lives others lead. I chose to rate Boot Language as a three-star read. I would have liked the end to elaborate a bit more, showing how the author’s life progressed. I think she told the story she wanted to share, but I almost felt as if I was left with a cliffhanger, which seemed odd to me for this genre. Overall, this was a very eye-opening memoir and I’m impressed by Vanya’s resilience in life, along with her strength in sharing her story with the world.


From the outside, Vanya’s childhood looked idyllic: she rode horses with her father in the solitude of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and attended flamboyant operas with her mother in the city. But life for Vanya and her family turned dark when ghosts from her father’s service on a Pacific destroyer in World War II tore her family apart. 

Set in postwar California, this is the story of a girl who tried to make sense of her parents’ unpredictable actions—from being left to lie in her own blood-soaked diaper while her Christian Scientist mother prayed, refusing to get medical help to watching her father writhe on his bed in the detox ward, his hands and feet tethered with leather straps—by immersing herself in the beauty and solitude of the wilderness around her. It was only decades later, when memories began to haunt her, that Vanya was able to look back with unflinching honesty and tender compassion for her family and herself. In this elegant, haunting narrative, Erickson invites us to witness it all—from the gripping, often disturbing, truths of her childhood to her ultimate survival.

Purchase on Amazon!


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