What Others Are Saying about Barbara Donsky
"A triumphant story of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her mother and an inspiring, though haunting, testament to the endurance of the human spirit."
— Kirkus Review
"Veronica’s Grave shows both the warmth of a loving family and the mistakes when secrets are kept. A compelling tale that gives wonderful insight to the readers."
— Mary Higgins Clark, award-winning author of more than 50 best-sellers including: All Dressed in White; The Melody Lingers On; and The Cinderella Murder.
"Donsky’s coming-of-age memoir is a vivid portrait of a remarkable life. It is a deft rendering that begins by inhabiting the shadows of a childhood lost, later illustrating a person becoming slowly visible to herself. The images and sounds of her New York neighborhoods—as well as the perfume-scented rues in the Paris she discovers as a young woman—are defining brushstrokes to complement and frame this memorable story."
— Rita M. Gardner, award-winning author of The Coconut Latitudes: Secrets, Storms, and Survival in the Caribbean.
"Veronica’s Grave is a compelling account of how a young woman, confronted with the unexplained loss of her mother, relies on her own inner resources and determination to not only discover the family secret of who her mother was but, in the process, discovers her own self and her own unacknowledged potential."
— Peter H. Kudler, M.D. Department of Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center.
"Congratulations on the publication of your wonderful book. In the past I’ve been asked by friends to comment on their books, but this time I am writing voluntarily because I thoroughly enjoyed reading Veronica’s Grave. The voice you chose resonated with someone like myself who grew up at a similar time. It was a time that women with dreams and visions had to carve their own paths with few role models to lead the way. Your book evoked many memories of discovering the world as a child, teenager and a young adult. Your similes and metaphors were delightful. Good luck with your future endeavors."
— Ruth Waldbaum, M.D., Diplomate Board of Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Distinguished Fellow American Psychiatric Association
"Barbara Donsky captures the words and experiences of a small child and her evolution into adulthood better than any author I have read since Jeannette Walls published Glass Castle. Donsky’s memoir, Veronica’s Grave, is so beautifully written and rich with so much detail and so many metaphors (that actually work) that her experience, struggle with, and silent damage from family secrets comes alive and rings true. Even better, she may be the first American woman whom I can imagine understands what I mean when I say I like myself better in France."
― Roni Beth Tower, author of Miracle at Midlife: A Transatlantic Romance, SWP October, 2016
"Barbara Bracht Donsky has crafted a most poignant and important memoir, which tugs at the heart from the very first page. As the author grows from the child confused by the sudden loss of her mother to an inquisitive young adult, readers will be drawn to her strength and fierce determination not to have the secrets and mystery of her mother’s death define the woman she eventually becomes."
―Sande Boritz Berger, author of The Sweetness, Foreword Reviews Indie Fab Finalist. A. L. A. Sophie Brody Award 2014 nominee.
"This highly enjoyable book is a memoir that reads like a very good novel: one continually wants to find out what happens next. It's difficult to find a book that is both delightful and serious, charming yet meaningful. Veronica's Grave is that book. It is chock full of right-on details that elicit fond recognition in the reader, and is written with wit yet with a palpable sadness and mystery that is a thread throughout the entire book. A book from an intelligent mind, written with a lovely style, this book brings much reading pleasure."
—Monica Starkman, M.D., author of The End of Miracles: A Novel and finalist, International Book Awards 2016, literary fiction.
"When Barbara Bracht was three years old, her mother vanishes from her life. The secret—and the silence within the family about it—casts a long shadow over Donsky's life."
—New York Magazine, Alexis Tsoulis-Reay, May 2016
"The author, Barbara Donsky, gives voice to a three-year old barely verbal little girl who transitions into teenager and then young woman. The voice changes with great humor and craft as Veronica’s Grave moves from the experiences of a mischievous, high-spirited youngster, to feisty and adventurous teenager and then to a tenacious young woman. The evolution is skillfully laid out in a delicious and entertaining way capturing a time lost to many readers, an era before the feminist movement!"
―Diana Y. Paul, author of Things Unsaid (She Writes Press, 2015) has won the award for best New Adult Fiction from Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2016, as been ranked #2 in the “Top 14 Books about Families Crazier Than Yours.”
"When an author chooses to tell stories drawn from childhood, one of the biggest challenges is to channel the voice of a child in a way that sounds genuine to the reader. In Veronica's Grave, Barbara Bracht Donsky begins her story at age three and takes us through her childhood, well into adulthood, and masterfully has her voice on the page mature along with her. In an era when adults often hid the truth from children about illness and death for a variety of reasons, we are bewildered along with young Barbara as she tries to figure out what happened to her mother. And then a baby is brought home from the hospital, adding to the mystery.
Donsky deftly carries the reader along through the troubled childhood and adolescence of a motherless girl, expressing the ever-present longing for the one person she believes has the ability to guide and protect her. Along the way, she weaves in references to popular culture that will make readers who grew up in the same era smile with recognition. As an adult, finally out from under the control of her distant and withholding father, Donsky earns her wings--both literally and figuratively--as she begins to live her life the way she chooses."
—Risa Nye, author of There Was a Fire Here: A Memoir
"I thoroughly enjoyed Barbara Donsky's memoir about losing her mother at an early age, thereby also losing her champion and cheerleader. This is a story of triumph, of a determined young woman who, despite her father's protestations, breaks away from the blue-collar family that raised her under the weight of secrets, to get an education and see the world. The author's ability to channel the thoughts and voice of a child and then those of an adolescent, teenager and young woman is brilliant. The stories of the early years of commercial flight and the new career "stewardess" were particularly fascinating. I especially enjoyed the story, having grown up in the New York City area, and I was able to put myself in so many of the locations the author described."
—Marianne Canedo Bohr, author of Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries
"Readers will be charmed by the protagonist, a girl named after Saint Barbara who can’t shed her father’s insistence on calling her ‘Bob’. We learn from her that those days were neither charming, nor good. Still, the Bronx streets of her working class family—Ryer and Decatur Avenues—remain beloved by Barbara even after she manages the extraordinary feat of escaping a mundane existence, belatedly discovering the death of her young mother, and dealing with a tough-minded father who coerces her into keeping a family secret.
Barbara’s intelligence and persistence will take her on a journey far from her humble origins. You will cheer for her as she strolls confidently down the Champs Élysées in her TWA uniform and later, as she dines with her French beau at the romantic Le Coupe Choux."
— Annette Libeskind Berkovits, author of In the Unlikeliest of Places
"Told in an almost fiction way, with great dialogue. Some memoirs are very dry and boring, not so this one. I found myself remembering some of her references, especially the Nancy Drew ones. I myself loved Nancy Drew stories but in a different way as reading was an escape for me from an abused childhood...This book is worth a read! I enjoyed it immensely!"
— Celtic Lady Reviews - May 10 Spotlight and June 2016 Review
"In this debut memoir, a determined young woman comes of age in New York City following the death of her mother. Donsky’s mother, Veronica, died giving birth to her younger brother, Eddie, but no one in the family told the author—not even her father. She “never hear[s] him say her name, never found a picture of her in the house.” Instead, she spent her adolescence believing that her mother was “missing,” until a cousin finally told her that she was dead. Her father remarried when her brother was still an infant, and he made the author swear to never tell Eddie that “Miss Marge” isn’t his real mother. The lie was a terrible burden on the author: “When a child is forbidden to say what he or she knows to be the truth…the heart is never free and easy.”
As she grew older, she longed to go to college, but her father said that “no one needs college to get married and have a bunch of kids.” However, she was dead set on leaving Yonkers, so she took night classes at Fordham University and became a stewardess for Trans World Airlines. Eventually, she did marry, and while on a trip to visit her mother’s grave, she uncovered a terrible secret. Donsky’s struggle to understand her father is a familiar one, but watching their relationship deteriorate is heart-wrenching. It’s impossible not to root for the tough, sassy author as she builds her own life and finds closure in the aftermath of mother’s death. The memoir is fast-paced and absorbing and features some beautifully rendered reflections on her complicated relationship with her father: “He’s like the clouds racing by. I love watching them, even though I don’t know a thing about clouds.” The book’s climax, after a slow buildup, is shocking without resorting to melodrama. Overall, Donsky handles her family’s story gently, sidestepping sentimentality to reveal honest recollections of her girlhood.
A triumphant story of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her mother and an inspiring, though haunting, testament to the endurance of the human spirit."
— Kirkus Review
"Veronica's Grave is the compelling memoir of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her mother. In the process of discovering her mother, she ends up discovering herself . . . the author's narration is descriptive, drawing readers into her world, her emotional pain, and her angst. The pictures shared in the book help readers connect with the author, making her life more tangible to them . . . It's a good book for everyone, especially parents as it reminds them that they need to hear their children at any and every age."
—Reader’s Favorite Silver Medal 2016