Cover Image: Women We Buried, Women We Burned

Women We Buried, Women We Burned

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Member Reviews

The audiobook is read by the author and is truly outstanding. I knew nothing about RLS and sometimes those are my favorite memoirs. Her story is heartbreaking and inspiring. I loved listening! This book is perfect for fans of Educated.
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This was such an emotional roller coaster. You know when you meet someone and find out their trauma and go, “I don’t know how she survived all that?” This is one of those stories. Captivating and engaging through out
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After losing her Jewish mother to cancer, her father remarries and adopts a crazy extremist version of Christianity that includes violent punishment and unbending rules. Kicked out of that house at 16, Rachel spends the next decade surviving and searching for the home she lost.
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Rachel Louise Snyder's previous book NO VISIBLE BRUISES is one that stuck with me for a long time. I don't often hold onto books I've read, but that one has a permanent spot on my bookshelf. So when I saw she had a memoir coming out, I was immensely curious. WOMEN WE BURIED, WOMEN WE BURNED is a gritty, honest, and moving memoir. It was hard to put down, though parts of it could have benefitted from more editing. Snyder's voice is smart, thoughtful, and razor-sharp. I love her work and I enjoyed this book.
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I love reading memoirs, so I was very excited to be approved for an ARC.

When I read the synopsis of Women We Buried, Women We Burned, I knew I'd need to read it. I was very intrigued. And I was more intrigued as I kept reading. I admired the author's ability to tell her story, without holding back any of the painful details. I resonated with her strained parental relationship and the complexities that come along with that. And that feeling of leaving your hometown for a better life. This is memoir I'd definitely recommend!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the gift book in exchange for an honest review!
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In a Nutshell: An interesting memoir by a woman who grew up in an extreme evangelical family and made her own way around the world using nothing but her own skills. Not exactly as promised in the blurb, but a decent read nonetheless.

When author Rachel Snyder was eight (in 1977), her Jewish mom died of cancer. Her Christian father remarried a Christian divorcee with two kids of her own, and soon opted for an extreme style of evangelical faith and stringent parenting, with corporal punishment being a regular part of his disciplining strategy. Snyder soon became a rebel, being expelled from school, choosing drugs and alcohol, living out of her car, and relying on strangers for her survival. However, her hereditary marketing & communication skills, courtesy her father’s various MLM businesses, ensure that she talks her way to college and later, to travelling across the globe.
This memoir focusses on her early life, her escape, her years in Cambodia, and the circumstances behind her return to the US.

First, let me set the expectations right.

The title, though impactful, is misleading. Somehow, it generalises the topic, giving a feel that the book talks of women who have been attacked by society for various reasons. The book, however, is entirely from a personal point of view, with only a few pages talking of women in general.

The blurb also provides a different idea about the content. This line in particular - “ In places like India, Tibet, and Niger, she interviewed those who had been through the unimaginable.” - is probably what she did in real life but it is not a part of the book at all. I admit, the reference to India was one big reason for my requesting this book, and I was disappointed to see that India is mentioned barely a couple of times in passing. The public problem of domestic violence is also not covered to the extent promised. Also, “her distraught father thrust the family into an evangelical, cult-like existence” led me to believe that they had actually joined a cult, which isn’t the case at all. Finally, I avoid memoirs that involve drugs or alcohol or casual sex. (Just a personal reading preference.) The blurb gave no clue about this content, else I wouldn’t have picked this up.

Basically, I had opted for this book assuming that it was an expose of the harsh facts related to domestic violence. What I got was a somewhat typical memoir, talking about survival and rebellion and resilience. A major chunk of the book is dedicated to her childhood after mother's death and her younger years after her father's remarriage. It is only after about the 60% mark that she talks about her international experiences, and those too are restricted to her years and personal experiences in Cambodia with no clue about how she earned her living there.

This is not to take away from her story. If anyone writes a memoir, it goes without saying that they have something to share, and this author has a lot to share indeed. Her childhood years under her domineering father were horrendous, and it must have taken a lot of courage to explore those old wounds again and pen them down. When she writes, “I lost my mother to cancer and my father to religion”, your heart actually breaks for her. The elements set in Cambodia were very interesting, and I could see glimpses of her journalistic prowess.

But as this is a book review, I am rating and reviewing the book and not the person. And the book, specifically the writing style, generated mixed feelings in me.

The narration of many events seems as ad hoc as Snyder’s job choices, seemingly going from random point to random point without any flow. Many important elements of her life, such as her decision of opting for journalism or her divorce, are brushed aside hastily. There are time jumps without warning, and while we can fill in some of the blanks, many facts stay hidden even until the end. I wish the book would have plugged in these gaps so that we readers got to experience a fluid narrative than one coming in spurts.

The ending is what disappointed me the most. The book goes a whole circle as Snyder returns to her father and her stepmom due to certain personal situations. Until that point, we hear nothing positive about her parents, but after her return, all we see is her sympathy and acceptance of her stepmom without any mention of what provoked this abrupt change of heart. The decision of forgiveness and acceptance seems to come out of nowhere. Another sore point for me is that I am not sure of how the stepmom, who was a reserved woman, would have felt [were she alive] about some of her intimate details being revealed in a public work.
All in all, this is an interesting memoir focussing on one woman’s tough life and her determination to make it in the world. Don’t pick it up expecting a greater focus on domestic violence or a spotlight on the other countries mentioned in the blurb. It shares a journey of personal growth than of social activism.

3.5 stars, rounding up for the audio version.

My thanks to NetGalley, Bloomsbury USA for the DRC, and HighBridge Audio for the ALC of “Women We Buried, Women We Burned”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

Content warnings: Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, rape, casual sex, domestic violence, physical punishment.
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WOW! What a powerful memoir! I feel like I need to acknowledge Rachel Louise Snyder, the determination she demonstrated throughout her dark life is profound. I really feel like I was next to Rachel when I was reading this book. I felt so many different emotions throughout this book. Women We Buried Women We Burned is a must read and a five star book!
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Outstanding. Tough to put down. Definitely one of the best memoirs I've read this year and I'm sure it will remain so. It faltered a bit towards the end and felt like time spent up, whereas the author took her time describing events in childhood and early adolescence, or else maybe there wasn't enough distance to write as much reflectively about her divorce and some of these later events. Still, this was gorgeously written and very moving, as well as incredibly thoughtful. What an amazing woman.
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Snyder begins with the death of her mother and then tells how things went from normal to abusive in her household. I found the first 50% sad and interesting because she explains how her father turns into this evangelical christian and completely flips Snyder's life upside down. I felt like the part of the book that explained growing up and trying to survive was so well-written and I was very engaged. 

The rest of the book just dragged so much. It is hard to review a book that is someone explaining their life, but yeah. At some points I felt like I was learning a lot and then the next second things were not getting explained. 

Overall I enjoyed learning about Synder's life. 

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Thank you Rachel Louise Snyder, Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC e-book. What a journey Snyder endured. This memoir that is her life story was heartbreaking but triumphant. The stories she gathered through her journey show such hardship but what a fierce woman she has become. She is the definition of self made.
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Women We Buried, Women We Burned by Rachel Louise Snyder was both a harrowing and inspirational memoir. Although Rachel Louise Snyder has written several books, this was the first book I have read by her. How fitting that I picked her own memoir to read as my first book by her. In Women We Buried, Women We Burned, Rachel Louise Snyder, gingerly exposed her life to her readers. She led her readers down the many paths she followed over the course of her life. Rachel Louise Snyder learned the meaning of grief at the tender age of eight when her mother died from breast cancer. Her and her brother’s lives were then guided solely by her Evangelical father and its movement. From the moment her father chose to embrace the teachings of the Evangelical Church, Rachel’s childhood was shrouded entirely by his faith and his blind and unbidden acceptance of their beliefs. Women We Buried, Women We Burned was the author’s own personal journey through her life from childhood, her rebellious teenage age years, college, graduate school, young adulthood, marriage, motherhood and beyond. It was well written but sometimes difficult to read. Rachel Louise Snyder was such a brave, courageous and honest woman who was determined to thrive despite the life she was made to endure. She would eventually learn how to overcome her struggles, demons, insecurities, fears and the influences of the cruel and dangerous world she was made to live in. It was not an easy feat. 

In 1979, only a few months after her mother’s death, Rachel and her brother were brought to Illinois by their father. They had been invited to attend a family camp or revival meeting by their Aunt Janet and Uncle Jim who were leaders in the Evangelical Church. It was the early days of the Evangelical movement. Rachel’s father bought into all that it stood for. Overnight, he became a religious fanatic. He also felt that the church offered him the chance to start his life over. After all, he was only thirty-nine years old when he found himself a widower. At that revival meeting, Rachel’s father met Barbara. She was a divorced woman, a high school dropout and mother of two children. Strangely enough, the death of Rachel’s mother was never discussed or brought up by anyone anymore. It was as if she had never existed. None of that prepared Rachel or her brother for when their father told them that he was marrying Barbara and that they should call her “mom”. They soon became a blended family and Rachel began to live in a state of fear, uncertainty and despair. Rachel questioned her father’s choices. It was as if he was a stranger to her. He had transformed before her very eyes. 

“I’ll never know why my father took the wild detour he took. I asked. A million times I asked, in ways both covert and direct. In whispers and in screams. In violence and submission. I asked for years. And others asked me, so many others. Friends I would meet throughout my life, and my relatives In Pittsburgh and Boston, and people who’d known my real mother, or only later heard her story. They all asked. And I kept asking. The whiplash of what came next, after that revival. I only ever got one answer: because God told us to. Even today, with all that I know and all that I’ve lived, I still can’t answer. 

David and I moved to Illinois two weeks after family camp. Cancer took my mother. But religion would take my life.”

Women We Buried, Women We Burned must have been extremely difficult for Rachel Louise Snyder to articulate, remember and write. I can’t imagine all the pain, hurt, disappointment and grief she experienced throughout her life. She was lucky to have met such wonderful friends along her journey through life. I admire her for her strength, courage and commitment to overcome the toxicity that consumed her earlier years in life. Women We Buried, Women We Burned was Rachel’s story about Rachel’s transformation and her own self discoveries she made about herself. Through all the hurt, ridicule and suffering she underwent, Rachel came out as a stronger, more independent, intelligent and honest woman. Women We Buried, Women We Burned touched on the themes of family, religion, illness, violence, motherhood, grief and loss. I highly recommend this memoir. 

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read Women We Buried, Women We Burned by Rachel Louise Snyder through Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Women We Buried, Women We Burned by Rachel Louise Snyder ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you to @netgalley and @bloomsburypublishing for the ARC. Pub date is tomorrow!🎉

My rating is solely based on the structure of the book and not the story itself. This story is one of resilience, grief, forgiveness, and learning how to live. Absolutely a 5-star read.

So why only 4 stars? I felt like I read 2 different books. The first part of the book (the part about being a child) was rich with detail and vulnerable. It explored grief, new families, religion, and growing up. The second half of the book (the part about Cambodia and thereafter) lost the detail and the intense vulnerability. This jump to Cambodia felt abrupt and disrupted the chronological, methodical way the story was told up to this point. After this, the book read like it was on fast forward, moving through different parts of the author’s life before landing back in the US.

All in all, I enjoyed reading both halves of this story; however, I was just a bit confused with the structure. Check this one out if you’re looking for a memoir to read this summer!
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I'm in the rut of all reading ruts and have picked up, started, and put down so many novels. I finished this one, but it didn't break my slump. Interesting premise!
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It was so wonderful to read a book from a fellow Semester at Sea alum! Rachel Louise Snyder is a woman who has lived many lives and her capacity to forgive continuously astonished me throughout this book. To come away from a book that contains so much pain with a sense of hope and of love for other people is no small feat. It's beautifully written and every piece feels intentional.
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Snyder has lived through a lot. After losing her mother at a young age, her father quickly remarried, moved them to IL and went off the religious deep end. Her growing years were tempestuous, partly due to her parents but also from choices she made.
The memoir is about having her reckoning, several times, and surviving through determination and tenacity. 
Her book illustrated  all have to live our best lives, wherever and in whatever form that means.
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This memoir BLEW me away.  I didn't know if it would have been a book that I would have been interested in, yet I was proven wrong almost immediately.  What an empowering story.  Unlike many others that have read this book, I really knew nothing about Rachel Snyder.  I didn't know the genre that was typical for her, let alone anything about her personal life.  Immediately, I was drawn.  Her resiliency throughout the book was astonishing. 

From losing her mother at a very young age, to being uprooted by her father shortly after, Rachel continued to persevere.  Not only was she moved from her family home, but her father also remarried and brought the family into a "born-again Christianity" cult like experience that provided a whiplash of sorts to Rachel and her siblings, especially since they were raised as Jewish.  Rachel rebelled, causing her to leave home, drop out of high school, get into partying and drugs, etc.  Despite all the challenges, she continued to move forward.  She formed relationships with others that helped her move in a positive and constructive direction.  She received her GED and made it to college.  She had gotten married and had a child of her own.  She traveled the world. I think the part I most admired was that she came back to support the family that did not show the same support to her.  She became a fierce advocate for her dying stepmother to ensure she lived her last days with dignity and respect.

I will 1000% read other books by this author.  I cannot wait to be immersed in her other stories.  Thank you, Net Galley, for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!!
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Women We Buried, Women We Burned is a new memoir by Rachel Louise Snyder, detailing her troubled childhood and how she eventually became an international journalist and advocate for victims of domestic violence.

The memoir begins with the untimely death of Rachel’s mother and the aftermath of that enormous loss. I loved how well she described what that loss was like from a child’s perspective, realizing now all that she didn’t understand then. Her father became entrenched in an evangelical church and remarried, blending families. These events began a tumultuous cycle of domestic violence within the family, which culminated when Rachel and her siblings were kicked out of their home as teenagers.

Rachel holds little back as she describes her own culpability in the events of her teenage years. She was a rebellious child who refused to be controlled. She fell into self-destructive patterns and was expelled from her high school.

Over the years that followed, Rachel eventually found her feet. She discovered her love of writing and her love of travel. As she learned more about the world and its people, she began to better understand herself and her own family.

This book is about strong women and the things that get in their way. It’s about disease and grief and death. It’s about faith and knowledge. It’s about messy family relationships and self-discovery.

If you liked Tara Westover’s Educated, you would probably like this book as well. Sensitive readers should know this book contains adult language, sexual content, child abuse, and drug use.
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"Cancer took my mother. But religion would take my life." (loc. 379)

When she was a child, Snyder's life took an abrupt turn: her mother died, her father remarried, and Snyder was expected to switch from low-key Judaism to fervent conservative Christianity. It...did not go well. Years later, her life took another abrupt turn: she left the country for the first time and experienced cultures other than her own. (That went rather better.)

From the description, I thought I might be getting something along the lines of Putsata Reang's "Ma and Me", although that might just have been the bits about Cambodia and travelling the globe. But in a lot of ways this is a fit for readers who loved "Educated"—harsh applications of religion, growing up much too young and also being spit out into the broader world with little understanding of how things worked, variations on violence. (I'll note that you can't go wrong with any of these three books, though you might draw different connections between them than I do.)

There is *so much* in here. Snyder tells a mostly linear story, and I think too much getting into the details here would detract from the reading experience, but I'll just say that she has the writing chops to tell her story well and to ultimately portray the complicated people in her life in all their, well, complicated glory. At one point there's a significant time jump, and it makes a lot of sense for the story, but it also means that I'm probably going to have to hunt up some of Snyder's shorter-form writing, because it sounds like her curiosity about the world has led her to story upon story upon story that could use books of their own.

This was not quite the book I was expecting, and it was better for it—because I never quite knew where the next chapter would take me, but I trusted that it would be somewhere interesting.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy through NetGalley.
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Thanks to NetGalley & Bloomsbury publishing for the ARC.

This is a deeply personal and moving memoir from the talented author behind—No visible bruises: what we don’t know about domestic violence will kill us. We learn about her tumultuous childhood & adolescence and how she makes a path for herself as a global writer, writing on complex issues around the world. And then, finally she comes home & tackles the grief of losing her mother young & then her stepmother to cancer. This is a book about finding one’s way in the face of grief and all the messiness that entails. A tough read, but worth it.
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In Women We Buried, Women We Burned, Snyder faces the trauma of her childhood beginning with the death of her mother, her tumultuous and abusive home life, and ultimately her healing as an adult. The book focuses largely on her youth, as she struggled to cope with her grief and anger following the loss of her mother, and rebelled against the abuse and control of her evangelical father and stepmother. After a few aimless young adult years, Snyder finds her way in college, ultimately landing as a journalist living abroad in Cambodia. Her time there sounds like it would make for an interesting book of its own. Her reflections on family, loss, and motherhood come full circle as Snyder returns home, with a child of her own, at the end of the book to care for her dying stepmother. Snyder writes clearly and candidly about her life, and tells a powerful story of healing and redemption.

Overall, this was a good read. Some sections felt a bit uneven in their coverage and slow at times, but Snyder tells a complete story that comes together well. 

CW: cancer/death of parent, religious/domestic/child abuse, sexual assault

Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for an advance review copy of this book.
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