inspirational, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#460 Sunlight on my Shadow by Judy Liautaud

Sunlight on my Shadow by Judy LiautaudSunlight on my Shadow by Judy Liautaud

Somehow I got sucked into a memoir. I like memoirs, which is a well-known fact if you’ve been reading here on One-elevenbooks for any length of time. I’m also trying out KindleUnlimited, which isn’t an unlimited as I had hoped. I’m assuming it replaces the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. More on that later though.

This is a memoir about a woman named Judy. When Judy was sixteen years old she gave a baby up for adoption. It was the 1960s and teenage girls didn’t just go around having babies. They went to homes for unwed mothers to have their babies in secret and then show back up at home as if nothing had happened.

Judy considered herself a good-girl, but admittedly lacked self-control. Teenagers aren’t the best at self-control so we do have to lighten up on Judy a bit. She gets a boyfriend before she’s sixteen against her fearsome father’s wishes. She starts having sex, thinking that it’s not that bad, even though she had been counseled at her Catholic school that it was bad and a mortal sin.

Judy ends up pregnant because of a broken condom. At first Judy doesn’t want to admit that she is pregnant. She tries to ignore it. She hides it for months, but finally tells her parents when she is five months along. Judy is a small person and she figured out how to hide her pregnant belly for a while. Her parents don’t act the way she had expected them to. It turns out they were instrumental in getting Judy where she needed to be. They decided she would go live with some family friends for a few weeks and then go to a home for unwed mothers, where she would have the baby, give it up for adoption, and then return home to resume her life.

Judy does these things. She has her baby. She looks at it through the nursery window. She wants to hold her baby, but knows that she shouldn’t. Judy leaves the home for unwed mothers and goes to her own home. She gets her shape back and goes to her senior year of high school. The pregnancy had caused her grades to fall and she was not able to get into the colleges of her choosing. She went to school, but eventually did find someone to be with. She went out west and lived a somewhat hippie lifestyle. She married her boyfriend David and started making a home and business. Judy had other children, but there was always something that held her back. She always remembered the baby she had given up for adoption.

After therapy both conventional and otherwise, Judy decides to look for her daughter. It takes years to find her, but it finally happens. Judy is glad to know that her daughter was raised well and turned out to be a decent human being.

What I liked

On the one-side I have a lot of sympathy for teenage girls who find themselves pregnant. That’s part of why reading memoirs about them is so interesting. I like to see how they manage with their lives. On the other-hand, I think they’re stupid. Yes, you read it correctly. Judy is no exception. She was very naive. She was a teenager so you have to cut her a bit of slack, but come on, didn’t other girls talk about situations like this, even if just in whispers, when Judy was in school? Hadn’t Judy heard of the consequences of not being diligent in proper birth control? I think Judy handled it as best as she knew how, but if Judy had been a little smarter, things might have went down smoother.

I liked the decision Judy made. She did make the right choice, maybe it wasn’t carried out in the most effective manner, but Judy made the right decision. She couldn’t have given her daughter the things she needed as a teenage mother. Adoption is a very good option for teenage mothers. I know Judy had her problems with the whole thing, but ultimately her daughter ended up with a much better life than she could have had otherwise.

What I didn’t like

Remember how I said Judy lived like a hippie? Well, Judy lived like a hippie. She lived in a one-room house. She lived in a small trailer. She smoked pot. She got married in a field. She talked about re-birthing and other such woo-woo things. You guys know I’ve been talking about the woo-woo factor in stories. I’m open-minded. I’ll try almost anything once. Re-birthing sounds stupid to me, but, then again, I’ve never really looked into it, maybe it’s great. To each their own, I say, but it just sounds really weird to me. I find it hard to fathom that anyone could remember their own birth. I could be to in-the-box for some of these ideas.

Here’s the thing about Judy, she rebelled at an older age. It is true that she did rebel as a teenager and that rebellion ended up getting her pregnant, but she didn’t rebel that much. I know you may be saying that getting knocked up at sixteen is a pretty big rebellion, but hear me out. Judy had a mother with a debilitating and terminal disease. Judy had to be responsible in helping care for her mother from a young age. She then got pregnant at sixteen and she had to grow up fast in a lot of ways. She learned that some things just weren’t as important and she had believed them to be. She learned about a mother’s love and a mother’s desire for her child. Judy learned all this very young. Then she studied diligently to try to make it into college. Judy was responsible, very responsible, excepting her short stint stealing liquor and having sex with her boyfriend Mick.

When Judy finally had the chance to be out on her own, she went all out. She drank. She partied. She left her religion. She tried LSD. She lived in a one-room cabin. She cohabited instead of getting married. She started a hang-gliding business. She smoked pot. She drove off. She got into home-birth, which isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a questioning the establishment type of thing. Judy had to grow up fast and when she finally go the chance to rebel, she just ran with it, probably further than she would have had she rebelled more as a teenager.

All in all, I think Judy had to be too responsible from a young age. She never got that chance to be rebellious as she should have. I used to think it was stupid that teenagers rebelled, but I’ve come to know that it’s really more a part of growing up. A person had to try different things to learn who they are, some of those things aren’t that safe. The idea is to realize who you are before you do something really dangerous. That still doesn’t change my opinion that teenagers are stupid; they’re still stupid.


I’m glad that Judy was able to find a balancing point between her past and present.

1960s, adoption, books about adoption, books about finding adopted children, finding adopted chidlren, judy liautaud, pregnant as a teenager in the 1960s, pregnant teenagers, sunlight on my shadow, Sunlight on my Shadow by Judy Liautaud, teen pregnancy
inspirational, Liautaud-Judy, Memoir, Non-Fiction, social commentary


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