REVIEW: Running in Heels by Mary A. Perez

Running in Heels jumps from one anecdotal incident to another, opening with Mary’s mother and then boyfriend stealing Mary and her older brother from daycare…

Running in Heels a Memoir of Grit and Grace by Mary A. Perez51RViTYQLSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_


“Somewhere between stealing cold cuts from stray cats and watching a stranger leave her mother’s bed after breaking in through their bedroom window, Mary figured out that her family was dirt poor. Worse than her empty stomach, she was hungry for acceptance and love. She thought she found it when her baby sister was born and she became her “mommy”, taking care of her needs as best she could at the age of seven. Then she had to say goodbye over a small white casket.
Mary’s grandparents, first generation immigrants from Puerto Rico, took her in and gave her a glimpse of faith and stability. For a brief, shining spell, she had a real home-until they decide that Mama needed her. They may have been right, but Mama needed more than a little girl could give and Mary lost her way again.
Just out of Juvy Hall, Mary found a knight in shining armor to take her away. She became a teenage bride to a man twice her age—a man as deeply enslaved to booze as every “step-dad” she’d had as a child. She loved him anyway, even wearing the bruises he gave her, even when she tried to leave him to give their children a better life. Despite her fear and loneliness, she never imagined it would take a gunshot in the middle of the night to teach her courage. She was even more surprised when rediscovered faith paved the path to forgiveness after so many years of pain.

Running in Heels is a memoir of the grit and grace that carried a young girl through the shadows of her mother’s choices and on through an abusive marriage. Mary A. Pérez narrates an incredible story of survival in the face of hopelessness, and learning to forgive against all odds.

A story of coming of age, and coming into grace.

Running in Heels is a gut wrenching memoir from an extremely talented author.
Mary was dealt a seriously bad hand of misfortune after mistreatment after tragedy and still, in the end with a hell of a lot of learning, searching and growing up, she came out of horrible circumstances to create a better, healthier life for herself and those around her.

But lets backtrack for a minute and talk about the cover. That stunning, heartbreaking yet beautiful cover. It tells its own story. I see a lost little girl playing at being mummy, whose just as lost.

Growing up with a neglectful mother prone to abusive partners and between house after home, mother to grandparents to father and back again would leave a mark on anyone, especially a child and it is no wonder Mary acts and speaks years beyond her age with forced maturity within this memoir.

The voice throughout the book bleeds childlike innocence in the beginning and then as Mary starts to understand that things aren’t right the voice matures and develops with her while still keeping the tone of a child. Even though it is written in the past tense coming from years after the fact with the benefit of adult sensibility and hindsight Mary’s voice, as a child, is startling present. As the life events progress through the years so too does Mary’s voice. Events of abuse told from a very young child’s viewpoint in not fully grasping the terror in front of her but merely cataloging interactions. The resentful rebelliousness of a child barely teetering on the edge of calling herself a teen. The resigned to her fate of a too young mum in a violent and volatile relationship, with another one along the way (cross your fingers for a boy). All the while the strong reflective, strangely forgiving and omniscient voice of the author, real life Mary, comes through as a subtle and highly effective undertone to the book.

Running in Heels jumps from one anecdotal incident to another, opening with Mary’s mother and then boyfriend stealing Mary and her older brother from daycare. This style of writing still manages to maintain a semi-fluid pace that doesn’t jar the reader from the path the author is creating between memories.
I think it gives the memoir real substance because it is essentially one massive compilation of events which progress as the years go on, as Mary ages and is forced to mature and confront adult situations, like being pregnant in her early teen years.

The events retold in this book are devastating.
You want to reach into the pages and pluck little Mary out and take her home and just love her. You want to keep reading. You want to read to the end to see what becomes of Mary and to find out who the person she has become at the end of the memoir, once shes on the other side of these terrible life circumstances.
I believe it’s the really compelling books, novels, memoirs, autobiographies that make you want.

I personally have no idea of what it would be like to not only live through these experiences, but to relive them, write them down so they’re all in the one place and share them with the world.

It wasn’t a laugh out loud book or a life is good kind of book. It was inspiring towards the end but the bones of the story weren’t something that left you comforted or even particularly hopeful.

It was a book of intense emotions and overcoming habits perpetuated by generations. It was an amazing journey.

Pick up your own copy of Running in Heels.

Connect with Perez here:

her blog


One thought on “REVIEW: Running in Heels by Mary A. Perez

  1. Reblogged this on Reflections From the Heart and commented:
    I thank Heidi for her warm and heartfelt caption to “Running In Heels”.

    My hope and desire is for others to know that no matter what they’re going through, they are never alone nor have to be ashamed of their pain. We all have a story and may more of us come to understand that some things are not necessarily a “quick-fix” event in getting out of a hell hole, but it is more of a process.


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