The Shoebox Effect:

Marcie J. Keithley’s newest book, The Shoebox Effect, is both memoir and self-help. It’s about how so often we humans tend to suppress painful feelings and old memories by creating an emotional/virtual shoebox. (Sometimes too, we create an actual shoebox with actual mementos.) We store old thoughts and sensations as well as physical items away so as to avoid or escape the reality of their existence. It’s a coping mechanism. Sometimes it’s what we need to do in order to get through a difficult time. The problem is, it becomes a bad or wrong thing at some point when suppression or subconsciously forgetting hinders our or our loved ones’ quality of life. Triggers will always come back, and you never know when.

The Shoebox Effect tells of Marcie’s experiences as a young adult mother, struggling to come to terms with family disruptions and unplanned situations during a time when society and women’s roles had different assumptions than today. Her writing is effective in “taking the reader back” to a simpler but challenging time in history when women and mothers had more traditional and conservative expectations. Changes were slow in coming, and helpful resources for struggling, unmarried young mothers were limited.

In some ways, The Shoebox Effect also reads like a self-help or a workbook because reflection pages are provided where the reader can journal or make notes about their personal thoughts. This interactive approach which includes spaces for questions and answers can help readers feel as though they are a pair of a conversation instead of just reading someone’s life story.

Author, Marcie Keithley genuinely cares about helping any reader who has emotionally or physically stored away pieces of unfinished life business by sharing the experiences endured by herself and other significant family members. This book will be very helpful for adoptees seeking the point of view of a birth parent, fellow bio/ first parents who have followed a similar path, therapists, counselors and other professionals in social work who may not be aware of the past history of adoption involving the Baby-Scoop-Era’s adoption practices. Adoptive parents will appreciate this book so that they can gain better insight and sensitivity for what their adopted son or daughter might be feeling, especially if they consider a reunion with biological family.

Keithley’s account is descriptive, honest and rich in emotion. This is a story of resilience, strength and optimism while confronting many oppositions. She tells her side, as a biological mother with dignity, class, and compassion.

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