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Extended Audio Sample An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir Audiobook, by Ariel Leve Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ariel Leve Narrator: Martha Plimpton Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2016 ISBN: 9780062565860
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A beautiful, startling, and candid memoir about growing up without boundaries, in which Ariel Leve recalls with candor and sensitivity the turbulent time she endured as the only child of an unstable poet for a mother and a beloved but largely absent father, and explores the consequences of a psychologically harrowing childhood as she seeks refuge from the past and recovers what was lost.

Ariel Leve grew up in Manhattan with an eccentric mother she describes as “a poet, an artist, a self-appointed troublemaker and attention seeker.” Leve learned to become her own parent, taking care of herself and her mother’s needs. There would be uncontrolled, impulsive rages followed with denial, disavowed responsibility, and then extreme outpourings of affection. How does a child learn to feel safe in this topsy-turvy world of conditional love?

Leve captures the chaos and lasting impact of a child’s life under siege and explores how the coping mechanisms she developed to survive later incapacitated her as an adult. There were material comforts, but no emotional safety, except for summer visits to her father’s home in South East Asia—an escape that was terminated after he attempted to gain custody. Following the death of a loving caretaker, a succession of replacements raised Leve—relationships which resulted in intense attachment and loss. It was not until decades later, when Leve moved to other side of the world, that she could begin to emancipate herself from the past. In a relationship with a man who has children, caring for them yields clarity of what was missing.

In telling her haunting story, Leve seeks to understand the effects of chronic psychological maltreatment on a child’s developing brain, and to discover how to build a life for herself that she never dreamed possible: an unabbreviated life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The staccato style of this searing memoir enhances the harshness and emotional power of what is a frightening story by a brave author, who resolutely describes herself as ‘a long-distance runner through the canyon of childhood’—a modest understatement. An unstinting portrayal of psychological abuse, both insightful and precisely told.”

    John Irving, New York Times bestselling author

  • An Abbreviated Life adds a harrowing chapter to the great tragicomedy called ‘we don’t get to choose our parents.’ Ariel Leve’s extremely readable memoir is, at its heart, a story about surviving childhood—a trick we must all perform. Even in its raw extremes, her story is a universal one.”

    Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “Sometimes, a child is born to a parent who can’t be a parent, and, like a seedling in the shade, has to grow toward a distant sun. Ariel Leve’s spare and powerful memoir will remind us that family isn’t everything—kindness and nurturing are.”

    Gloria Steinem, journalist and political activist

  • “In this searing portrait, Leve vividly renders the trauma she endured and her struggle to free herself from her mother…Leve’s powerful story of surviving her brutal childhood demonstrates that contentment can be found.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A candid rendering of pain and survival.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Out of a childhood that seems just about impossible to have survived, Ariel Leve has written a haunting, indelible story that becomes its own form of redemption. This is an act of bravery that strikes me not only as a literary achievement, but a human one.”

    Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion

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About the Author

Ariel Leve is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Guardian, Financial Times Magazine, the Telegraph, the Observer, and the London Sunday Times Magazine, where she was a senior writer and a columnist. At the British Press Awards she was short-listed twice for Interviewer of the Year and Highly Commended twice. Her books include It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me.

About the Narrator

Martha Plimpton, in addition to audio narration, is a film, television, and stage actress. Her first major film roles include The River Rat, The Goonies, and The Mosquito Coast. On stage she made her Chicago debut with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company Ensemble, during which time she received a National Medal of Arts Award. She won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance in Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia and has received numerous Tony Award nominations for supporting or featured actress. Her television roles included Grey’s Anatomy and Raising Hope, among others. In narration, she won an AudioFile Earphones Award for her reading of Alice McDermott’s After This, which also was a finalist in 2007 for the prestigious Audie Award.