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The Sky Isn't Visible from Here: Scenes from a Life
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The Sky Isn't Visible from Here: Scenes from a Life

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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Felicia Sullivan's volatile, beautiful, deceitful, drug-addicted mother disappeared on the night Sullivan graduated from college, and has not been seen or heard from in the ten years since. Sullivan, who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn in the 1980s, now looks back on her childhood—lived among drug dealers, users, and substitute fathers. Sullivan became her mother' ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Algonquin Books (first published February 5th 2007)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  359 ratings  ·  68 reviews


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Kathleen
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Normally, I find memoirs some of the best books I read. I love compelling details like the Red Pumas in this book. Perhaps I've read too many books about down and out childhoods recently. I found the book to be very depressing, and choppy the way that she went back and forth in time. One wonders how someone like this was even able to grow up with the neglect, berating, anger. While similar in content to The Glass Castle, I found it to be not nearly as well written.
Katrina
Feb 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Once in a while I read a book that brings me to my figurative knees. This is one of those books. Felicia writes of growing up in the shadow of a fiercely protective (at times), careless (at other times), seductive, larger-than life, drug-addicted mother who disappeared from her life when Felicia graduated from college. Amazingly, she survived the dangerous situations in which her mother placed her, but not unscathed. Like the generational cycles that occur in many families, Felicia found herself ...more
Peter
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Peter by: A friend and writing mentor.
Felicia Sullivan is a skilled writer. I read a previous reviewer who wrote that Sullivan’s writing is 'workshoppy'. Sullivan touches on criticism of her writing in the book. There’s a brief section where she expresses what many writers feel when their work is dismissed out of hand. I felt for her when she wrote about the difficulty of exposing oneself to other people and then getting shot down for errors in syntax and spelling. Workshops are a trust, sacred to me, and participants have a duty of ...more
Karl
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was well written, decently engaging, somewhat disturbing, but in the end I keep wondering if the author will inevitably return to a life of addiction? She claims to be done with drugs, but drinks no more than two glasses of wine a week. She grew up with a mother who never told her who her father was. Mom was introduced to cocaine by a boyfriend and from that time on it's one horrific event after another. The author's telling of her story seems to be a drawn out disgorging of the psycho ...more
Christiana
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Troubling memoir reminiscent of The Glass Castle. Felicia grows up on the tough streets of Brooklyn with a drug addicted mother who cares more about the abusive men in her life than her own daughter. Felicia has her own lapses into the world of drugs and dysfunction as a young woman, but pulls herself together and enters Columbia University to work on her career as a writer.
Jaime
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it


I thought this book was okay. Sullivan jumps around a lot in time, and it isn't exactly clear when her mother disappeared, since she seems to pop up later....I did want more self-reflection. Her friend mentions rehab but it is never written about in the book. I didn't get a good feel for the author and I think she could be more accessible to readers.
Judy
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book--couldn't put it down! It's a beautifully horrifying memoir that details Felicia's heinous childhood and yet not once does the author lapse into self-pity. It's brave and completely riveting. Oh, and unless your mom was Hitler, she's going to look pretty great next to Sullivan's.
Krista
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Horrifying memoir about a daughter's struggle to grow up with an alcoholic and drug addicted mother. We follow Felicia as she begins her descent into the same hell as her mother and are mesmorized as she begins to pull her life around.
Julie
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it
A fast read. This may be the last in a string of my-life-was-really-messed-up-due-to-my-crazy,-drug-dealing-parent(s) that I read. I've had enough of that already.
David Rogers
May 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Memoir that is art.
Sharon
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
gut-wrenching reading at times
ABC
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Felicia Sullivan had a terrible mother and a terrible childhood and somehow she grew up to be a really insightful person and a beautiful writer. I love memoirs.
Arlene Sanders
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-reviews


NEVER. . .have I had a reading experience like this one.

Completely unprepared for this, Sullivan's book took me by surprise. One does not expect a memoir be thrilling, terrifying, cliff-hanging -- I mean the way Tom Clancy's CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is.

Reading THE SKY ISN'T VISIBLE FROM HERE is like riding on a runaway train. The journey begins:


"In the spring of 1997, a few weeks before my college graduation my mother disappeared. Over the years, I had grown used to her leaving: a four-day co
...more
Diane
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough book to read due to the difficulties experienced experienced.
Lindsey
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's always a good sign when you enjoy a book enough to read it in one day.
Raven DeLajour
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
It takes guts to write a memoir. Whether your life was plagued by happy moments or ones you want to bury forever, there is no denying the strength and resilience that comes out of writing your own experiences down on paper. After having read Felicia's tale of survival and strength, I am surprised that I haven't come across this book before.

The book jumps from the past to the present, and this helps explain the writer's hectic past while describing her successful career in the present. She wears
...more
John
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read other memoirs about their unhappy childhoods in the greater NY area and/or party years during and after college -- usually they are unreadable. However, Sullivan's book works because she's a damn good writer. Sometimes, there really is something to be said for being a trained (MFA), professional writer.

It's also particularly impressive that for her first book, Sullivan chose to plumb her own difficult childhood and wayward 20-something years. It seems to be a stumbling block for many
...more
Carolyn Stanley
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it
NOTE: THREE AND A HALF STARS (not 3)
First of all, somebody smack me and get me off of this Memoir Carousel. Jeeeeez!

Who isn't glued to a story about tragedy? Am I the only one who thinks reading about other peoples darkness is like watching a train wreck? Maybe that's where my memoir kick is coming from.

This story consumed me. I think part of it was being close to the age of the author and identifying w/ her references. The authors relationship w/ her mother throughout the book was unsettling.
...more
ellemaddy
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-a-copy
I bought this book in Lucky Plaza, Singapore when I was in the eight grade along with a bunch of other books. I think it was three for five dollars? I don't remember the exact pricing but it was really cheap so naturally I went a little crazy and bought a lot.

The Sky Isn't Visible from Here is a memoir about Felicia Sullivan's childhood and how it affected her adulthood. Her whole childhood, Felicia had to take care of her drug-addict, absentee Mom and abuse from her stepfathers. I remember at s
...more
Em
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Another author, by the name of Felicia Sullivan, has moved me by her personal account of the real stories that broke her heart and made it stronger.

The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here tells about the significant moments where the author had to deal with her drug-addicted mother, who is also the main reason why she led a troubled life. She attempted to live double lives where in one she pretended to be exactly what she is not, making up stories and lies about her history and family background. She be
...more
Engineous
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This is a good autobiography. It's honest in many ways that most autobiographies are not, and her ambivalence about her mistakes and flaws give this an unsettling, thought-provoking realism that you don't find a lot nowadays. It's not perfect; there are no clear-cut decisions, no good/bad divide - it's just fucked up, that's all. And living with what is described as - but never stated as - a truly borderline mother gives you a good hefty dose of fucked-up, in case you were missing any.

While I oc
...more
Ewurama
Sep 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Written by the author of a blog (feliciasullivan.com) I enjoy reading, The Sky Isn't Visible from Here is a memoir told in nonlinear fashion, a series of vignettes and disconnected memories. Sullivan’s story was remarkable to me largely because I know from her blog how radically she’s turned her life around. What made the difference between her and others who had similar experiences as children but spiraled in the other direction, unable to recover? Particularly interesting is that so much of he ...more
Alicia
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a really, really good memoir! Memoir is my favourite genre and my favourite types usually involve psycho parents or drug addictions. This has both; it was like a literary speedball. Felicia Sullivan used an alternating timeline throughout the book with each chapter representing a different time period in her life. In one chapter she's living it up in Manhatten as a business woman and in the next she's a child watching her mom at work in Brooklyn. I think some readers might find this a l ...more
Jenna
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: most anyone, addicts, alcoholics, college students
Recommended to Jenna by: Parent Bloggers Network
Shelves: 2008-read-books
The story, itself, was intriguing. Sad, yes. Or, rather, more than sad, brutally honest. I wasn't a total fan of the back-and-forth composition of the story, especially how it varied from year-to-year instead of a true-to-form back-and-forth.

But it was deeply moving. I'd suggest it to just about anyone, but especially those who drank one or two more than they should have in college and wondered just how close you can get to "that line" without going over. The book made me grateful that things ha
...more
Amy Richard
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all my girl friends.
Recommended to Amy by: mamasource
I would recommend this book to anyone who struggled growing up with their mother. It isn't as though I ever lived the life that the author did....she grew up in an Inner City lifestyle with drugs and alcohol and sex abuse all around. I did not...I grew up in a pretty safe house with two parents and a blue collar family life. But I connected with her struggle to accept her mother...forgive her mother..love her mother. It was an easy read for me and an absolutely incredible story. I recommend you ...more
Maya Rock
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Elena, Rita
This book is finely structured.
It's a memoir of the author's relationship with her mother who seemed like she was a child when she had her. The flashbacks from past to present really helped make you see the connections between the two women. The desperate need to control. While I usually spend a lot of time feeing sorry for the characters like the author's mom, this really brought home to me the damage damaged people inflict, and how far you have to run to escape them, and how even when they're
...more
Amy Richard
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all my girl friends.
Recommended to Amy by: mamasource
I would recommend this book to anyone who struggled growing up with their mother. It isn't as though I ever lived the life that the author did....she grew up in an Inner City lifestyle with drugs and alcohol and sex abuse all around. I did not...I grew up in a pretty safe house with two parents and a blue collar family life. But I connected with her struggle to accept her mother...forgive her mother..love her mother. It was an easy read for me and an absolutely incredible story. I recommend you ...more
Tam317
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
When you find a book in a used bookstore, find yourself so struck by the intro that you buy it on your Nook, because its worth the full price, you know its going to be good.

Memoirs are my favorite genre and this doesn't disappointment. Moving between stories from a traumatic and chaotic childhood to an unsteady young adulthood moving through masquerading, addiction, recovery, and discovery, I found this book incredibly moving and well written. Sullivan's ability to tell the story of this part of
...more
Laura
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really felt that this was a wonderfully penned memoir that is both morose and expectant of hope at the same time. I wholeheartedly found her story sp overwhelmingly gut wrenching yet mesmerizing all at once. I do wish, however, that there was another chapter possibly detailing what the author did with her life at the end of the book. It would have been nice to see. All in all a fine read. Kudos!
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Hi, Everyone! Welcome to my bookish home.

I’m an award-winning published author (psst: my memoir, The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here was published in 2008) with a novel, Follow Me Into the Dark coming out in March of 2017. I’m a proud Fordham + Columbia graduate who has built businesses and brands for nearly two decades. Now, I’m a free agent (translation: consultant) and CEO of an all-women creative
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