Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review: White Elephants by Chynna T. Laird

File today’s book review under “the pursuit of following dreams”.  Today’s author tells her personal story of resilience when the experiences of her youth and young adulthood stacked the odds firmly against her.       

Elephant in the middle of the living room--that is one way of explaining how a family walks around the invisible presence of huge problems. Hindsight is what brings the elephant into focus.

Somehow at the innocent age of five Tami began to see the bulky creature crowding her family and took on a sense of responsibility far beyond expectation for her age. Her mother was different than other mothers. Family life in their household was not pretty. No one seemed to notice. No one did anything about it, and Tami wanted someone to do just that. As an adult Tami took on her first name, Chynna, and took up the challenge to find out what might have helped her mother fight her battle of self-destruction. She couldn't help her mother, but she would consider it worth everything if her family's story helped another.

This candid memoir is a story of one girl's struggle to deal with her mother's alcoholic/bipolar condition--the white elephant no one else would see. With a conversational tone, Laird shares her remarkable story of abuse, survival, and her triumphant recovery into becoming a healthy, well adjusted wife and mother. Tastefully written, this book will touch your heart. It offers hope that, no matter where you come from, life is what you make it.

It's no wonder White Elephant has been ranked #1 on 'Best Books On Recovering From Childhood Trauma' on GoodreadsThe last time I read a memoir this psychologically captivating was This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (which, yes, was made into a movie starring Robert De Niro and a young Leonardo DiCaprio).  The image of a white elephant, so precious despite its destructive nature to those caring for it, makes its presence known on every page.  Though gut-wrenching and heart-breaking, I was compelled to keep reading to find out how the author portrayed as the innocent girl standing directly in the elephant’s path had survived. 

In an interview with WOW, Chynna Laird explained how her first draft had been an outpouring of emotions, the greatest of these: anger.  I can rightfully see why this would have been the case.  However, the final draft, takes on a tone much like listening to a friend.  And, it is out of her compassion for helping others struggling with a family member suffering from a mental illness that Chynna Laird finds her courage for sharing such a deeply personal account.       

About the Author:
Chynna Laird is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync to be released March 2012), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). She’s also working on a sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.

Please visit Chynna’s website at, as well as her blogs at and, to get a feel for her work and what inspires her.


  1. Hi Audry. Thank you so very much for such an amazing and touching review of 'White Elephants'. I only hope for two things with my story: that there is a greater awareness raised by what happens in families who don't help someone suffering with mental illness and to give hope to children out there living in the position I was in so many years ago.

    The stronger we are, the smaller the elephant becomes.

    Thanks so much again.



    1. Chynna,

      It was a pleasure reading and reviewing your memoir. I am more than glad to spread the word about your message of hope and awareness.

      All the best,


  2. Audry, thank you for the review. My eyes widened when I saw "psychologically captivating". I just got a copy and can't wait to start turning its pages.

    1. And, honestly, I could have read this book in a day's time - it was that difficult to put down.
      Thanks for your comment!


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