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The Women Who Raised Me: A Memoir

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  482 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Born as a ward of the state of Maine, the child of an unmarried Yankee blueblood mother and an unknown black father, Victoria Rowell beat the odds. The Women Who Raised Me is the remarkable story of her rise out of the foster care system to attain the American Dream—and of the unlikely series of women who lifted, motivated, and inspired her along the way.

From Agatha Armste
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2007)
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Jan 16, 2010 Valerie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Nancy's book club selection
I admire Victoria Rowell for her courage and her heart for helping others. She had to come a long way to be a successful person. That being said, I didn't especially care for this book. It was bogged down with a little information about a whole lot of people, mostly women. So many that it was impossible to keep track of who they all were. Hearing more about Victoria herself would have been an improvement I think.
Mar 03, 2011 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish that I could have liked this book more--the title was very intriguing. The author grew up in the foster care system before becoming a ballerina and TV actress. Poorly written, I struggled to read what felt most like a rambling personal history without descriptions, cohesion or a point.
Nov 02, 2012 えりか rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Her story itself is amazing, I don't deny that. The telling of the story, on the other hand... Horrible. Dull, generic voice and a failed attempt at eliciting any sort of pathos; ordinary diction, bland tone, overuse of the phrase "years to come," not to mention there were a handful of typos throughout. The way she took a life lesson out of everything felt unnatural, like I was reading a forced fable, and it just fell completely flat with me. It was painful to read. Which is a shame, because the ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-discussion
I thought this was going to be a memoir, but it turned out to be "thank you" to foster mothers, mentors, friends and the many, many people who helped Ms. Rowell survive and perhaps thrive. I think the book could have benefited from a good editor.

As always my book discussion folks tempered my opinion a bit. We all felt some upheaval in the book and that seemed to reflect Ms. Rowell's early life. We talked about what an author chooses to include in a memoir is not necessarily what we want to know
Sep 15, 2012 Barbikat60 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up in the foster care system. I'm glad she had a better experience than I.
Jan 19, 2014 Osa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say that I am very grateful to have come across this memoir. Yes, I generally read the memoirs and biographies of celebrities, but this one offered a very different story in that Victoria Rowell concentrates on giving due to the women who, as she aptly puts it throughout the book, raised her to succeed, despite the odds stacked against children raised within the foster care system. Ms. Rowell writes about her mother, Dorothy's insistence, that she and her sisters be raised together, and p ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Sherese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring story of famed actress/activist and foster care success, Victoria Rowell. I didn't know much about Ms. Rowell except that she was a daytime actress on one of my mother's favorite Soap Operas from the 1980's " Young and the Restless" and that she also appeared on "Diagnosis Murder". Her story is unlike many stories that I've heard about children growing up in the foster care system. Ms. Rowell was very lucky and blessed to be placed with and srrounded by the many women that raised, l ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a splendid and glorious memorializing of a company of women who contributed to her growth, opportunities and eventual success, Victoria Rowell has created a grand gesture of epic proportions.

Her story, told with grace and honesty, reveals the multi-layered character she became as a result of the fostering and mentoring she received…as she describes it, like the piecing together of a quilt.

In successive foster homes in the state of Maine, from infancy, Victoria Rowell sets an example of triump


In the brilliant pages of
"The Women Who Raised Me"
a daughter born to destiny
is what one clearly sees.

Challenged from the start
by the blood of history flooding her path--
crashing waves of denial and shame,
racism screaming its scornful wrath.

Consider her skin the color
of America's dream of democracy;
a ward of the state of Maine, yes,
but a child as well of aristocracy.

Through the schizophrenic shadows
of her mother's pleading tears,
caring hearts sang stron
Sep 14, 2010 Suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite chapter by far was the early, long chapter on Victoria's foster mother, Agatha Armstead. She writes such a touching, inspiring, nostalgic biographical piece on this great lady, I don't think I'll ever forget it. That being said, if I had known who Victoria Rowell was before reading the book (soap opera, TV series and movie actress, mother of Wynton Marsalis's son) I might have been more interested. The book is weak in some places and after about the third chapter begins to suffer fro ...more
Jul 17, 2009 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This woman's life is remarkable. Maybe I'm a grinch, but after a while it all started to feel TOO positive. It somehow lacked something, some depth. I guess since she's a movie star (though I had not heard of her until reading the Sunday NY Times wedding section, which I always do,) she was trying to give kind of an overview, glossing over difficult relationships and times.
I would have liked to learn more about her biological siblings, especially her sisters, with whom she was raised in the sam
Jul 15, 2008 Wynne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of a woman who was the 5th child (all different fathers)of a mentally ill woman. Right after Vikie's birth the children are taken by family services for their safety. The older two boys go to live with the mother's ex-husband and the girls are put into foster care. Somehow the girls luck out, with loving, generous foster mothers.This is the journey of her life in foster care and how she came out as a whole and thriving adult. It would be interesting to compare her sisters' exper ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Mary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I expected The Women Who Raised Me to delve deeper into issues of parental rights, the foster care system, and child protection services in general. Instead, this is a memoir that includes hagiographic vignettes of the women who took in Victoria Rowell throughout her turbulent, disjointed childhood. I didn't finish the book so maybe I missed the analysis I was hoping for. Perhaps it would have helped me through this story if I had been more familiar with Rowell's adult success in dance, TV, and ...more
Sep 04, 2009 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! This is an autobiographical book written by the co-star of Diagnosis Murder. Prior to that show, she also had a supporting actress role in the Young and The Restless. During her run on her soap, Victoria's early storyline was loosely based on her real life. She was a foster child from birth who with the help of many people, including the State of Maine, became a ballerina. Her story is riveting! I am so impressed with her autobiography!
Jun 05, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I give this book five stars for Rowell's ability to combine the personal and the political. Her well written history of her foster family, combined with her soul baring details about how she has successfully found her way in the world, make for a book you just can't put down. Her thoughts on foster parenting and adoption should inform policy and policy makers.
Victoria Rowell (acclaimed actress and ballet dancer) was raised as a foster child in Maine. Many, many women helped influence her developing years. She remains an advocate for foster children. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Jill Stevenson
This could've used a good editor.
Krystle Garrison
this book had some good parts and then some really boring parts. i kept getting confused with all the differnt characters.
Jan 28, 2011 JaNae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I tried for a whole month to get through this book, just couldn't do it. The author was just too positive for me. Crap happens to her but she only sees the good in a way that just work for me.
Sep 24, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in adoption/foster parenting or trying to cope with hard times
This book is awesome. Victoria Rowell overcame adversity and learned how to deal with life's curveballs. This book could be an inspiration to anyone who chooses to read it.
Jul 10, 2017 Marianne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Can a book say too much and yet not enough? That's how I felt reading this book besides the fact that it was written poorly. I found it boring and a bit pretentious.
Mary Peplinski
If you find yourself interested in this book, read part one ("Grandmothers, Mothers, Aunts") and skip the rest.
The author writes about her childhood with enough detail to make it interesting, insightful, and inspiring. She certainly pays lovely homage to the women who raised her in these years; the reader understands the bond she felt for them and appreciates each of these women as unique, lovable characters.
In the subsequent parts of the book, however, the author devolves into a long ramblin
Jun 13, 2008 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always intrigued by how people choose to reveal their lives--how they organize their stories and protect and pay tribute to the people they care about most. Victoria has woven a careful account of her life and the family she found along the way. It culminates in a beautiful moment that will leave you inspired.

I felt that at times the writing was a bit choppy--it was difficult to keep all of the people straight. Yet, in a situation where family can be fleeting--to sit down and remember them,
Apr 29, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Women Who Raised Me" is a beautiful narrative about a determined, lonely, talented girl who becomes one of the most respected actresses of our time. Victoria Rowell chronicles her life as a ward of the state of Maine with dignity and deft, defying the odds with grace and grit. Looping in and around itself like an elegant Mobius strip, her memories of these mother figures envelop you like a warm hug from someone you never knew you missed. Though her hardships are many and severe, some requir ...more
This book provided a very interesting account of foster care experiences. It was in good contrast to the horror stories one often hears (though there were some non-ideal). The women of the book were official foster parents, relatives of them, friends, and mentors. It amazed me how one person could run into so many people so willing to go out of their way to help. But it was not a book only about luck. Effort was also involved.

I was most taken by the foster mother, upon learning of Vicki's intere
Jun 11, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Book Club
Shelves: book-club
This book is Rowell's memoir/biography but also, as the title suggests, a tribute to the numerous significant women in her life. Rowell suffered disadvantages due to her various living circumstances but she doesn't get mired down in a pity party.

Overall, I liked this book and found the stories interesting and, at times, inspiring. I was disappointed in her lack to include important details when it came to her relationship with her ex-husband, who is the father of her first child, and Wynton Mars
Apr 18, 2016 Rhonda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In many ways a very touching story - interested me in part because my mother (now in her 80's) was a perennial foster child, i.e. from birth until age 18 and "emancipation". I was curious to hear more about her half-sisters and their relationship, since they were presumably raised together. These 2 sisters seem only incidental to her story, which I found puzzling. I agree with another reviewer that the depth is not generally there in the writing. That being said, while I am not familiar with the ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredible narrative about the many influential women who helped her through a tumultuous childhood while living in foster care. At times her writing was poetic. I love how she gave so much tribute to Bertha, the woman who lost her at age 2.5 because she was white and the state of Maine wanted Vicki to be with a black family. I love how she gave her such a loving tribute for the foundation of attachment and love she gave her at such a young age. As a future foster mother this book ga ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Lacy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As far as memoirs go, this one was interesting enough to keep me reading, but not necessarily the best I have read. The author skips around quite a bit, relaying the details and family trees of her life growing up as a foster child. I wish she had gone more into her mother's history of mental illness, but I believe she just did not have the resources to really discover much about it. This is a quick read though, and quite touching, especially when reading about the bond formed between women who ...more
Aug 29, 2009 Brandy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As of right now I would say "The Women Who Raised Me" is a very slow and boring book. This book was recommended for me to read by my CASA(Court Appointed Special Advocates)organization and that is why I am still reading git. I agree with a few of the reviews when they say that it may be a little too positive and it seems that she has tweaked her background to fit with where she is now. I have no doubt Victoria Rowell is an amazing women and her story is one of great triumph, but this book does n ...more
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Intriguing 5 13 Jun 05, 2013 06:02PM  
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Vicki "Victoria" Lynn Rowell is an American actress and dancer. She is known for two high profile television roles: Drucilla Winters on the daytime drama The Young and the Restless, and her primetime role as Dick Van Dyke's medical examiner, assistant and pathologist, Dr. Amanda Bentley, on Diagnosis: Murder.
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