Review by Beryl Eichenberger
This is a story about the power one has to change one’s life. In Fraud – How prison set me free, author Elka Schaimberg has collaborated with publisher Melinda Ferguston to tell Nikki Munitz’s story.
It is a stark reminder that, no matter where you come from, there is no guarantee that you won’t hit rock bottom or be dragged into a life that is humiliating, destructive and abusive. It is a tough read, but the authenticity of the story shines through.
This is a book about self-esteem, or lack of it, and how Munitz’s experience of a life out of control and prison led her to find herself and her true calling. The upshot is that today she is a global expert on self-esteem and addiction.
For Nikki Munitz, hers was a toxic family environment from the very beginning. Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe it. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, her mother was harsh and uncaring and her brothers became extremely negative forces in her life.
Compensation for her ‘deep sense of lack’ leads her to excel in school, and gain a university place – but it is her desperate need to be loved, seen and to belong that drives her to up her game. From drinking to a love affair with heroin she reaches the edge of the precipice and tips over.
It’s a sad story, told with honesty and complete lack of self-pity. It will make you ask many questions – of yourself, society, family and friends, of the many contradictions in one’s make-up that can make a person plunge to the bottom and finally claw their way back to make a meaningful contribution in the world. Tough as it is, it lands with self-revelation, strength and taking control of one’s life and that in itself is inspirational.
The book is available at the Gitlin Library, and can be purchased from leading book stores.
• Published in the February 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.
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