Book Review—Can I Come Home Now?

A True Story of Childhood Trauma

Book: Can I Come Home Now?  A True Story of Childhood Trauma

Author:  Barbara Godin

Can I Come Home Now? A True Story of Childhood Trauma, is Barbara Godin’s honest and heartbreaking tale of her early life.  Godin’s book, published this autumn, fills in the gaps left from her early memoir, Glimpses in Time, and provides a consolidated narrative of her life from birth to adulthood.

Godin is a long-time writer for The Voice, best known for her ongoing “Dear Barb” column.  Godin has also written many articles about her life and family members for The Voice, and also compiled the long-running feature “Women of Interest.”

Courageous and compelling, Can I Come Home Now? recounts Godin’s heart-wrenching tale of childhood neglect and abuse.  Her mother, self-involved and fun-seeking, leaves young Godin to be reared by a series of relatives, some of whom take advantage of a vulnerable young girl.  The shame and secrecy of sexual abuse prompts seemingly “inappropriate” anger in young Godin.  Between her sullen outbursts and lack of interest in school, Godin is labelled incorrigible and is shipped off—twice— to Ontario’s notorious “Training Schools for Girls.”

Lacking the emotional tools to navigate life and relationships, Godin marries a man who later becomes abusive and manipulative.  It takes years—plus plenty of self-help books and a few kind-hearted people—for Godin to recognize her self-worth and break out of the mould she had been flattened into earlier in life.  The book culminates with Godin’s relentless determination to find healing and a sense of belonging.  Godin went on to resume her education, graduating with a BA in English from AU in 2008.

With this latest book, Godin has published her fourth book in less than three years.  But Can I Come Home Now? was more than twenty years in the making.

“I began writing this book many years ago,” Godin says, “but I was not ready to publish it until now.  Because of the nature of the book, it was very difficult to open myself up to the readers, but I felt it was necessary.”

Some episodes in Can I Come Home Now? expand upon those recounted in her 2021 book, Glimpses in Time:  A Collection of Memoirs and More.  Even before she published Glimpses in Time, Godin had decided to finally complete and publish her autobiography.

“All the positive reactions I am receiving from readers have definitely been helpful for me,” says Godin.  “Although I have received some negative comments, such as ‘why bring that stuff up now’ and ‘just let it go.'”

For some readers, Can I Come Home Now? will be an eye-opening introduction into the forms abuse can take and its damaging effects on its victims.  It will also alert some to the subtle signs they can be aware of indicating someone in their life may be suffering in silence, and who may need someone to listen, to intervene, or to advocate.

“My hope is that the people who need to read this book will find their way to it,” Godin says.

Some readers may find Godin’s story painful to read, particularly those who may have shared some of Godin’s experiences with abuse.  Others may find it difficult to acknowledge that there can be such cruelty in some people.  Godin says, of her early readers, that men in particular had a difficult time getting through the book.

“Most [men]cannot get past the third chapter,” Godin says.  “Also, I have had some readers in their early twenties who could not get through it.  They said it was hard to realize that there are such evil people in the world.”

Exposing the hidden horrors of neglect and abuse was part of Godin’s desire to publish such a personal and painful book.  Given recent news reports of abuse involving, for example, young people in sports, Godin believes the timing of her book “couldn’t be better.”

“Hearing and reading about all the young girls and boys who are being abused,” Godin says, “I felt I could offer a voice of hope.  I went through it and survived and went on to have a happy, productive life.  I want to show that it is possible for each and every one of them to get over this.”

“Not that it’s an easy task,” Godin acknowledges, “but it is possible.”

Can I Come Home Now?  is available in paperback and ebook formats.  Godin previously published Dear Barb: Answers to Your Everyday Questions and Dear Barb 2: Advice for Daily Life, both with selections of Dear Barb columns from The Voice magazine; as well as Glimpses in Time:  A Collection of Memoirs and More, a compilation of vignettes from Godin’s childhood, family, and relationships.  More information on Barbara Godin and her latest book is available on Godin’s website at www.barbgodin.com.

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