Do we ever see a memoir of a happy childhood?
Fortunately, Let the Tornado Come is only half unbearably sad. It is well written by an especially sensitive woman who had a tremendously difficult life in her formative and teen years. She was a runaway involved in horrific experiences: familial abuse, drugs, alcohol, prostitution. She had little contact with her family of origin and little idea how to turn herself around.
As a young adult, she finally found the courage and support to connect with a childhood dream; she wanted to spend time in the company of horses. She had long heard “the sound of hoofbeats.” She wanted to know them and to ride them. After a move from urban New York to Maryland, she did so.
Rita Zoey Chin’s memoir recounts almost equally both parts of her life. Chapters are interspersed--her troubled youth and her fortuitous marriage and bonding with horses.
Into her adulthood, Chin was anxious, depressed; she had panic attacks. She couldn’t leave her house; she could no longer drive. Finding the right horse--Claret, a large, lively boy--and learning to communicate with her horse and ride smoothly, gets Rita out of herself. (She was also most fortunate in her choice of husband, Larry, a calming and loving presence.) Her rescue horse frequently acts out, sometimes in similar ways to Rita. “It was Claret who taught me that we could trust each other… By demanding my full presence, Claret taught me a calm and strength that pain had no part of,” recalls the author.
She resolves, “We were two wild things, he and I, and I would not leave him.”
In the end, this moving memoir is about resilience and the healing power of love, from and to all creatures. It is but one of dozens of new volumes that focus on the exceptional power of interacting with and learning from all animals.
Written accounts about events or characters that turn damaged childhoods around, that provide hope where there was none, appeal to this reader. Read through the horrific childhood parts of Chin’s memoir, but keep your eyes on the horse.