Monday, June 11, 2012

Review Time....Hiding From Reality by Taylor Armstrong

by Brittany Geragotelis

The Story: NOT EVERY FAIRY TALE HAS A HAPPY ENDING. . . . Reality hit Taylor Armstrong hard one tragic evening last August when she found the body of her estranged husband, Russell, hanging in his California home. Fans across the country were shocked at the horrific news of his death and even more shocked to discover that behind the glittering “reality” of Taylor’s life on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills lurked a painful story of emotional and physical abuse that she had been terrified to tell.

With searing honesty, Taylor candidly examines her difficult journey from the abusive home in which she was born to the low self-esteem that kept her constantly on the run from herself, to the tumultuous marriage that ended in suicide, and ultimately to her realization that only by sharing her moving story could she help other women.

Taylor and her husband Russell Armstrong. In her book, Taylor discusses the events that led up to Russell's shocking suicide.
Why It's a Must-Read: The first "Real Housewives" that I fell in love with was the cast from Beverly Hills. I found them to be the most entertaining and interesting, and was happy that there weren't any physical fights (I'm looking at you Jersey cast). I was always fascinated with Taylor Armstrong, the beautiful yet tiny woman who was married with a young daughter. As I watched the seasons progress, it became increasingly clear that she was in an abusive relationship. And then when the news broke that her husband, Russell, had committed suicide....well, my desire to read Taylor's book to hear the real story grew. 

What you get through reading Taylor's book is what seems like an honest look at what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. You could feel her heartache and hopelessness throughout, and even begin to understand what she was going through. It didn't feel like Taylor had written the book with the intentions of making her ex out to be a villain. In fact, considering everything she went through, one wouldn't blame her if she had been a little more one-sided in her recollections. But that's not what Hiding From Reality is about. Domestic abuse is a problem and I've known a few people who have been in similar dangerous situations themselves, and I found the book to be helpful in trying to begin to understand what it's like to be stuck in a situation like this. It's well-written, honest and harrowing.

What a Character: Like I said before...I was always a fan of Taylor. And when we began to discover the abuse she was dealing with, I felt for her. The book actually gave a much more detailed look at her life growing up--what led her to look for men who were either unavailable or not right for her, why she gravitated toward unhealthy relationships and how she made it to Beverly Hills and onto the show. Though it's difficult to understand why a person would stay with a man who beats her and belittles her, the book really does try to explain the complicated feelings that are involved in an abusive relationship. In the end, the reader is left with hope. Hope that those who are in these kinds of situations may get out of them (alive) and that they can (hopefully) stop the cycle of abuse.

A Little Something Extra: Amidst the seriousness of her memoir, I was psyched to hear that Taylor was a cheerleader growing up and that she was even a staff instructor for the organization NCA (National Cheerleaders Association), which was coincidentally, the same cheer group that I taught for for five years! (Fun Fact: Another "Desperate Housewife" that called herself a NCA staff instructor? Eva Longoria!) And if I know cheerleaders, I know that they're strong and they can persevere through any tough times. I have high hopes that Taylor will end up on top.

Follow her on Twitter @TaylorArmstrong and then go out and buy her book!