Inspiring memoir reveals how mentor support can have a lifelong impact on kids who mask their pain
“Sublime writing brightens an unforgettable, harrowing personal account” –Kirkus
ATLANTA, GA–A former educator with decades of experience, Beverly J. Armento wrote “Seeing Eye Girl” (She Writes Press, July 5, 2022) for the invisible walking wounded–children who hide their pain behind smiles–and for the teachers and mentors who doubt the power of their support.
As a child, Beverly was the “Seeing Eye Girl” for her blind and mentally ill mother. She was intimately connected with and responsible for her, even though her mother physically and emotionally abused her. She was Strong Beverly at school where she excelled in academics and was mentored by caring teachers. But at home she was Weak Beverly.
“Seeing Eye Girl” is her harrowing story of growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional home. Yet it’s also an uplifting story of resilience and hope–an inspirational story about the teachers who empowered Beverly and gave her the resources and spirit to survive and thrive.
Deftly and courageously written, “Seeing Eye Girl” is a deeply moving journey that will leave you both thankful for all the helping hands who guided you on your path and introspective about how you can give back to others.
“Seeing Eye Girl: A Memoir of Madness, Resilience and Hope”
Beverly J. Armento | July 5, 2022 | She Writes Press | Nonfiction, Memoir
Print | ISBN: 978-1-64742-391-9 | $16.95
Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-64742-392-6 | $9.95
Praise for “Seeing Eye Girl”…
“An engrossing read…Sublime writing brightens an unforgettable, harrowing personal account.”
“Is it possible that a story of chronic abuse at the hands of a mentally unstable mother can be beautiful? ‘Seeing Eye Girl’ proves that the answer is yes. Armento’s masterful prose and her penchant for the revealing detail make her account illuminating. This book is a testament to the human spirit that will not be denied fulfilling its potential. Armento gives witness to the hard fact that we sometimes have to nurture ourselves and shows just how that can be done.”
–Sue William Silverman, author, How to Survive Death and other Inconveniences
“As soon as I started reading Beverly Armento’s memoir ‘Seeing Eye Girl,’ I knew I was in the hands of a gifted writer and storyteller. Armento’s prose is rich and observant as she guides us through her struggles to understand her mother’s madness. Between the pages of heartbreak, shimmers a compelling story of courage.”
–Melissa Cistaro, author, Pieces of My Mother
“‘Seeing Eye Girl’ is a brave, riveting account of a young life coping with unspeakable hardship and abuse. But more than that, this memoir is a testament to the resilience and force of the human spirit. This is a story that will move you, affect you, and linger with you long after you close this remarkable book.”
–Lauretta Hannon, author, The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life
“‘Seeing Eye Girl’ lays bare every reason for a person of lesser courage, intelligence, talent, and determination to fail in life. Instead, Beverly’s travails have been the impetus for her success as a teacher, professor, and author. A remarkable work by an amazing person. If I had read ‘Seeing Eye Girl’ before I started teaching, I would have been an even better teacher than I was.”
–Louis D’Amelio, High School English educator for thirty years, retired
About the Author…
BEVERLY J. ARMENTO: Inspired by the many teachers who mentored her, Beverly J. Armento became an educator and enjoyed a fifty-year career, working with middle school children as well as prospective teachers. Retired now, she is Professor Emerita at Georgia State University, and holds degrees from The William Paterson University, Purdue University, and Indiana University. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her memoir, “Seeing Eye Girl,” was awarded a bronze medal from the IPPY awards. For more information, please visit: www.beverlyarmentoauthor.com
Credit: Erin Brauer Photography
In an interview, Beverly J. Armento can discuss:
- Her writing journey, and how this memoir came to be
- How she found resilience and hope in a dysfunctional home
- Why mentors are crucial for kids, and how her mentors helped her to survive and thrive
- How we can keep our eyes open for ways to help the “walking wounded” in our community
- Why it’s important to read about others’ life experiences, and what she hopes readers will take away from “Seeing Eye Girl”
An Interview with
Beverly J. Armento
- Did you always know you would write a memoir about your experiences growing up? What motivated you to start writing?
Very often during my long and rewarding teaching career I was reminded of my childhood and all the outstanding educators who mentored, encouraged, and nurtured me. They saw to it that I knew I was a competent and capable person. Like a missionary, I made it my goal to pass on those gifts to my students, often prospective educators. The idea of a memoir was always in the back of my mind but it was not until well into my retirement that I took a creative non-fiction writing class. Responding to the prompt, “hair,” I immediately created a poem that brought me to tears as I attempted to share it with the class. “Where did that come from?” I wondered. More than a decade later, after many writing classes, critique groups, and conferences, that poem forms the center of a chapter in the now-completed “Seeing Eye Girl: A Memoir of Madness, Resilience, and Hope.”
- This is a story about resilience and hope. Where does one find hope in a dysfunctional home? What about resilience?
In many cases, one must go outside one’s home to build the tools and the support system needed to spring back from adverse experiences in the home. I found the peer and adult support I craved at school and church, where “Strong Beverly” was able to be confident, courageous, outgoing, joyful, expressive, successful, and a leader. My supportive relationships came mainly from teachers, and my strong religious beliefs gave me the spiritual base to have a purpose in life, to be hopeful that there would be a tomorrow and that it would be a better day.
- What does “walking wounded” mean to you?
Many children and adults experience or have experienced adverse childhood experiences (physical, emotional, sexual abuse; exposure to drug, alcohol or other addictions; violence in the home; loss of a parent or significant other to death, divorce, or abandonment; poverty and the lack of basic necessities; gun violence in the home or school; and more recently, the many effects of the pandemic such as loss of academic learning and developmental growth, the inability to cope with virtual learning, and so on); one very common way many of us cope with such experiences is to push one’s emotions deep inside and pretend to oneself and the world that all is well. Actually, these folks often are the ones amongst us who are the jokesters, the ones showing off their good humor and smiling faces. The invisible walking wounded. Everyone thinks they are just fine, until the day comes when they can’t maintain the façade.
- What impact did your mentors have on you growing up? Can anyone be a mentor?
Mentors saved my life: they believed in me, loved me like I was their child, encouraged me to have high expectations for myself and gave me the skills I needed to be successful. This is the way all children should be treated by all teachers, by all adults; mentors don’t need to know the specifics of the child’s circumstances (unless, of course, there is evidence of abuse, in which case, educators have an obligation to take action) to be kind, to take an interest in a child, to give a compliment, to be encouraging, supportive. Older siblings, adults, in a range of community roles—can be and are mentors, whether they think of themselves that way or not. I have mentors who don’t know they are mentoring me; I observe them, watch how they respond to situations, learn from them. You can mentor through your behavior, so make sure you send the best messages to young people.
- What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
When I read a memoir, I want to identify with the protagonist, find some consonance between our lives, and take away inspiration or insight for my own life. My intent is not “to represent” the reader, for everyone’s life is unique and no two situations are alike, but examples in my life may spark a memory, an image, an event for the reader on which s/he will ponder. While this book may be difficult for some readers, especially if reflecting on their own lives is too raw and painful, it may also be uplifting and hopeful. For mentors/educators, I hope you see yourself playing the same role for your students as my teachers played for me. It’s important. I know. And, you may know too, from your own experience.