Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
by Mary A. Perez



Chart House Press, LLC, 2015. ISBN 978-1-631-25028-6.
Reviewed by Anita Lock
Posted on 05/13/2015

Nonfiction: Memoir

For those who grew up in a loving and stable environs, it is difficult to image what home life would be like if it were filled with drunkenness, shouting matches, and abuse. Yet the latter description captures only a portion of Perez's dysfunctional past. Written in three parts, Mary Perez's memoir delves into the spiritual healing of one woman who was once caught in the vicious cycle of codependency.

The first section centers on Perez's childhood and early teen years. At the tender age of three, Perez goes to live with her mom after her parents divorce. Her mom's life spirals out of control with the addition of alcoholic, abusive boyfriends, and plenty of partying. Mary is frequently left at home at night and has to fend for herself. Many moves and four years later, Perez's mom surprises her with a baby sister; while the newfound companionship is refreshing, Perez now has to take care of herself and her baby sister.

Children's Services steps in, her mom is sent to jail, and Perez and her sister move in with their grandparents. Situated in a strong Christian environment for the next three years, Perez is happy to attend school on a regular basis. But her home and school contentment is short lived. With the tragic death of her sister, candid narrative shifts into raw emotion as Perez slowly succumbs to withdrawal in her preteens, and by age twelve she takes an emotional nosedive. Juvenile detention, drugs, alcohol, abusive boyfriends, scores of unstable living arrangements, and finally dropping out school mark Perez's new life.

At the age of seventeen, Perez enters into a fourteen-year relationship with a man sixteen years her senior, and gives birth to four children over the next five years. In Part Two, Perez says clearly that her life with this domineering man—riddled with a troubled past and alcoholism—was nothing less then tumultuous, especially when he abandons her and the children.

Yet in a miraculous turn of events six months after their divorce, another man comes into Perez's life, and this time he's a keeper. While Part Three zeroes in on this marvelous transition, Perez points out that she would not be where she is today if it were not for God's intervention in her life over the years and her grandparent's faith that sparked her interest in Christianity.

Very moving and highly inspirational, Running in Heels, as Perez clearly states, "is more than a memoir. This is a promise of hope and survival to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for anyone who was abandoned as a child or an adult, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body."


About herself, Perez says: "Born in the Bronx, raised in Miami, relocated to Houston—I am Puerto Rican descent, blessed to be the mother to four grown children, 'Mimi' to a couple of gorgeous grandchildren, and happily married (the second time around) to a phenomenal man for twenty years." Her award-winning essays have appeared in La Respuesta and Sofrito for Your Soul. Visit her website.

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