Out from the Underworld

Out from the Underworld

by Heather Siegel

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Heather Siegel was six years old when her mother disappeared, sending her father into a tailspin that took Heather and her siblings down with him--from a comfortable suburban home to a barely habitable basement apartment, a dark world they soon found themselves fighting to return to from the exile of foster care, then fighting even harder to escape. Forty years later, Heather Siegel tells the remarkable story of how she and her siblings, Jaz and Greg, banded together to find out what happened to their mother and fight their way Out from the Underworld with nothing but their wits, determination, unbreakable bonds and gifts for humor and compassion to sustain them. A wrenching, inspiring story filled with heartbreak, hope and love, Out from the Underworld will move you to laughter and tears.

Praise for Out from the Underworld

"A graduate summa cum laude of the school of hard knocks, Heather Siegel has written this dark, riveting memoir with refreshing if mordant humor, rueful tenderness and compassion. She is a stunningly gifted storyteller."
-- Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay

"Heather Siegel has taken the raw material of an unusually deranged childhood and fashioned a piece of writing so smart, funny and insightful that, as we read, we see the narrator growing from a street-smart little cynic into a remarkably understanding woman. More one cannot ask of any memoirist."
-- Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

"Out from the Underworld documents not only Heather Siegel's survival of a brokenchildhood, but also how Siegel forged a life beyond any label of 'victim' or 'damaged.' It serves as a beacon guiding pathways of possibility for others to follow."
-- Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

"Heather Siegel's memoir is heartbreaking, but also filled with the kind of dark humor that will have any reader turning pages, eager to keep up with her masterful storytelling. It examines some of life's greatest tragedies with a redemptive insight that is inspiring and illuminating."
-- Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth

"Heather Siegel has written a funny, painfully honest and ultimately inspiring coming-of-age memoir. Her story of escaping a dysfunctional family is a great read."
-- Alan Rinzler, Consulting Editor

Product Details

BN ID: 2940151239691
Publisher: Greenpoint Press
Publication date: 04/30/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 228
Sales rank: 954,488
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing
from The New School. Her work has appeared on
Salon.com and in The Mother Magazine and Author
Magazine, as well as in various trade publications. She was
a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest
Writers Association Literary Award
in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San
Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction
Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012
Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore
Press First Book Award. A multi-creative
person with interests in the arts, nutrition,
health and beauty, she has founded several
independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an
organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives
with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long
Island in a house filled with light.
To learn more, visit www.heathersiegel.net

Customer Reviews

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Out from the Underworld 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
mattidw More than 1 year ago
Out From The Underworld by Heather Siegel was an amazing book that at times shocked me that it is a true story. It was so shocking at times that I wanted to stop reading but I also couldn’t stop reading because I had to know what happened next. I had a rough childhood or at least I thought I did until I read this book and now I know my childhood was a piece of cake compared to Heather’s. I have to warn you that if you had a rough childhood this may be a trigger for you but it was an amazing book. I have been sitting here trying to figure out how to put into words how this book made me feel and I don’t have words to describe how it made me feel. If you are looking for a great true story book to read than I know you will love this one. FTC:I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
dwatson More than 1 year ago
Heather was six years old when her world was turned upside down. Her mother vanished leaving her family in a tailspin. Heather, along with her brother and sister were forced from a nice home to a dark basement where they lived with their father who never got over the loss of his wife. The children were eventually forced in and out of foster care with their only goals being to find out what happened to their mother and find a new home outside of the basement. Out From The Underworld by Heather Siegel is a memoir about a dark childhood, but it’s also a story of hope and proof that patterns can be broken. The writing in the story is excellent and the characters seem like people you would see in your every day life, because they are. This is a story about neglect and abandonment but none of the characters in it are bad, they are more like shades of grey. Everyone has their own issues and what we have in this story is three siblings who learned that the only people they could trust 100 % was themselves. I was impressed with the detailed memories that Heather has of this period of her life and I loved the fact that it seemed like this book was written from a kid’s point of view. Meaning that it wasn’t written from a viewpoint of an adult looking back on her childhood, the impression I got was that Heather was remembering everything from when she was a child and writing it as she saw it from her younger self’s viewpoint. For instance one of my favorite scenes was early in the book when Heather’s grandma is complaining about her life and says she wishes she could move to Canada. Heather’s sister right away asks what’s stopping her from moving to Canada. Her grandma acts shocked and mentions several reasons why she can’t pick up and leave. I thought this was a great example of how children and adults look at the world differently. For kids its easy as saying this would make me happy so I’m going to do it, while an adult is more cynical and will come up with several reasons why they can’t be happy. Another thing that really sticks out about Out From The Underworld is the realism. Heather talks about some horrible things in her childhood but she describes good times also.  She brings up some fond memories of one of the foster families she lived with but we hear of the family’s dark side as well. We also hear how everyones lives get better when Heather’s father gets a regular girlfriend but things eventually go bad. Another shade of grey in Heather’s life is her father. There are several instances in the book where you see that he is not really a good parental figure, but you also see instances where he shows love for his kids and because of his own upbringing never knew how to be a real father. Out From The Underworld is a coming of age story by a woman who has suffered through more than most people suffer through. You hear about Heather’s world view and you see her opinions on life, working and school change as she gets older. The best part of this book though is that all the kids in the book managed to go on and live happy lives, but not all the people in the book had the same transformation. I think Out From The Underworld is a great example of how a memoir should be written and I hope other people who live under similar circumstances read this book and learn that it is possible to escape the cycle of a bad home life.
GReba More than 1 year ago
This recollection of thoughts and memories takes us from the author's childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.  She and her siblings survived much more than a broken home.  From the moment her mother made a seemingly selfish decision, it was almost all downhill from there.  From a self-imploding father unable to step out of his own shadow to care for those in his charge to a parade of women that would each leave their mark (for better or worse) on their young lives, the eventual realization reached was that no matter how much they wished, hoped, and dreamed that their remaining parent would rise above to save them like a phoenix from the ashes, it simply was not in their cards.  So, the had to make their own luck and reach towards a happier ending. It was so hard to watch this little family within a family be broken up again and again with atrocities committed against them that none should have to bear.  It was inspiring to see how they pulled together to take care of each other while still reaching out to try and rescue the lost parent that still lived.  Jaz may have been a hardcore-kick-butt-and-apologize-later type of girl, but deep down she was the "mother" between them, always guiding, sharing, and caring...in her own way.  Greg, their brother, was a gentle spirit, and carried that kindness with him despite the tortures others inflicted upon him.  As for Heather, she's more than simply our narrator or a victim of circumstance, she's a survivor, and considering where she came from any sort of normalcy achieved would be a celebratory point.  So, settle for what she could get?  Nope!  She shot for the stars and while fame and fortune may not have been the end result, a life in the sun, with loved ones to cherish, and even a chance to make amends with her father, are definitely not something to shrink from. In conclusion, an honest share of a life that was much more thorns than roses but with an ending that opened more doors than it closed, for the better.  It's been said you never know what you're capable of until put to the test.  Well, when their feet were to the fire, they didn't shirk away. **review copy received in exchange for my honest review...full post can be seen on my site**
VicG More than 1 year ago
Heather Siegel in her new book, “Out From The Underworld” published by Greenpoint Press gives us the story of Heather Siegel. From the back cover: Heather Siegel was six years old when her mother disappeared, sending her father into a tailspin that took Heather and her siblings down with him—from a comfortable suburban home to a barely habitable basement apartment, a dark world they soon found themselves fighting to return to from the exile of foster care, then fighting even harder to escape. Forty years later, Heather Siegel tells the remarkable story of how she and her siblings, Jaz and Greg, banded together to find out what happened to their mother and fight their way Out from the Underworld with nothing but their wits, determination, unbreakable bonds and gifts for humor and compassion to sustain them. A wrenching, inspiring story filled with heartbreak, hope and love, Out from the Underworld will move you to laughter and tears. Child neglect and abandonment how can anyone really survive? That is the question I had when I found Ms. Siegel’s memoir of her life. Normally I would not get this book however I was intensely curious as it says that she overcame that background, I had to find out how. Her mother left her at age five that is when her life went flying out of control. Her father couldn’t take the loss so they went from a nice house to living in the moldy basement of her grandparent’s house. The father is distant, the grandparents are distant and then, one day, he sends them off to live with Foster Parents. The events that happen in this book are not easy stuff to take. It is not meant to be. These are the events of Ms. Siegel’s life and she didn’t have an easy time of it. The great thing is the title of this book is “Out From The Underworld” and that is exactly what it is. Ms. Siegel and her siblings went from the basement into the sunshine of their lives. This is an epic undertaking. As I said it is not an easy read but it is an exceptional read. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from IRead Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Out From the Underworld is one of those books you won't be able to put down. I found myself lost in the authors world of chaos, neglect & abuse. Heather Siegel has a way of writing that really draws you in & easily helps paint a picture of what life was like for her & her siblings growing up. Fingers crossed for another book from this author.
lifeasleels More than 1 year ago
This book follows Heather and her siblings journey starting at a young age when their mother takes them away and their father come to their rescue. Upon ‘rescuing’ the kids, their dad moves them into the dark basement of his parents home where the kids find themselves in and out of foster homes, in and out of the basement, and dealing with a dad who really acts like he doesn’t want to be a dad. It isn’t until the end of the book that really start learning the truths behind their mother and their father. In the end, I did really start to understand and feel bad for the father. I didn’t ‘love’ this book, but I didn’t ‘hate’ the book either. My emotions were just kind of neutral when it came to this book. Their situation wasn’t ‘great’, but, I hate to say it; it could have been worse. Based on the ‘dark, riveting, unfortunate truth’, I was expecting much, much worse. Don’t get me wrong – the situation was definitely crappy, especially when you are a kid. The best part of the entire book was that Heather realized the cycle and made the conscious decision to change the cycle with her family and children.
Mshogrider67 More than 1 year ago
Heather Siegel will really make you stop and think, and more then likely thank your lucky stars for the life you have had. You will run the gamut of emotions with this book. You will cry, not only in sadness but fear, anger, relief, and happiness. You will be mad, sad, scared, horrified, happy, glad, and more. This book is inspiring also. What Heather and her siblings went through and still pulled out of it, is just amazing. I could of made a hit list from this book, their Father, grand parents, the foster parents, they didn't deserve to be walking free enjoying the aspects of life. They all needed to be locked up, or better yet treated just the same as they treated these girls. But the best part is How Heather puts her life together and shines. This book will keep you from page one, and almost make you feel lost when you read the last word. You will think about this book for a while after you finish reading it. I have to commend her for putting her story out for the world to read.  I was given my copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
D_Donovan More than 1 year ago
Out from the Underworld offers something different in the memoir world: its title sounds like science fiction, it reads with all the compelling drama of a thriller, yet it actually is the story of Heather Siegel, whose mother disappeared from the family and whose father abandoned his children: a story developed with all the trappings of a good mystery. Forty years later she is still asking questions, and Out from the Underworld documents not only her survival of a broken childhood and family, but it's lasting (and surprisingly positive) effects on her own family. It's about how adults make choices, their effects on children, and in turn how further choices are made for future generations - and most of all, Out from the Underworld details not just survival, adaptation and healing, but how Siegel forged a life above and beyond any label of 'victim' or 'damaged' - and perhaps this is its greatest strength, setting the read apart from a mere story of struggle and survival. The 'Underworld' in Siegel's story is more than the basement apartment that thinly veiled personal hells: it's about mental attitude and how lasting, positive change is achieved against all odds, and it's about accepting parents for who they are rather than who they "should" or could become. Any who have struggled with their own family hell and idiosyncrasies (either minor or major) will find Out from the Underworld illuminates the course of one woman's transformation and, in the process, serves as a beacon guiding pathways of possibility for others to follow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heather Siegel has a story and shared it to her readers in a rivating, captivating tale which fully engrossed the reader from beginning to end. Her true story is disturbing, heartbreaking, and inspirational. I'm looking forward to future novels by this new author...she is one to watch.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel is a memoir detailing her early years living with an irresponsible father, after the disappearance of an idolized mother. She and two siblings, Jaz and Greg, live alternately with their father in the basement of his parents’ home, and several foster homes. The underworld reference is rich in meaning. It refers to this windowless, dank, insect-infested home basement, the father’s occupation as a funeral director, and family secrets that are eventually revealed (after much resistance) to Heather and her siblings. The loving, supportive camaraderie between the siblings is the saving grace of these three children. Siegel presents her story of terrible circumstances with candor, dignity, and touches of well-placed humor. Although the story has its difficult moments – how can any mother simply disappear, or any father treat his children with such disdain – this story is easy to read. The narrative is well-written and flows. It is easy to become emotionally involved with Heather and her siblings, hoping they can succeed in spite of such a rough childhood. Siegel presents a message of hope and resilience, without hitting the reader over the head with the message. While Siegel was a victim of parental neglect and emotional abuse, she does not present herself as a victim. Rather, she shows strength and gritty determination. Heather Siegel is a role model for each of us, teaching us how to meet difficult circumstances head-on and overcome them. Out from the Underworld is a book I will not forget.
margo4371 More than 1 year ago
Received my book and jumped right in....easy read that kept me turning page after page. Not sure how anyone could make it thru this kind of childhood (let alone 3 kids). Heather's attention to detail took me on a journey that left me inspired, grateful, and wanting to learn more about each character. Curious and hopeful that this author is considering writing another book??
wifetoalineman02 More than 1 year ago
Life is full of surprises. This is the reason that we need to enjoy life to the fullest. Heather and her other siblings Ja and Greg grow up without a mother and lived with different foster care.  I cannot imagined if this will happened to my kids. Out From Underworld is a true story book that will show you how these siblings survived and become who they are now from this experienced. This book is so good. You cannot put it down once you start reading it.  I LOVED each chapters. I hate their Dad that sometimes I want to throw this book on his face. Of course, I learned to accept who he is and how the way he tried to raised these kids to his best. This book is so much more to appreciate good things that we have now. Reading this book gives me smile, laughter and be amazed how these siblings eternal bond. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a heart warming book. One of the best book I read this year. Thank you for Ms. Siegel for an amazing book. You and your siblings are truly are an inspiration for your readers. 
Patricia-RoomWithBooks More than 1 year ago
It is my pleasure to read and review Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel. I received an ARC from the author in return for an honest review. I always feel awkward when looking at a memoir and offering my review, after all this is about people, about family . . . about children and the effects of certain events on their lives. This is a dark memoir yet it is my pleasure to say that Heather Siegel took a deep look into the abyss of a dysfunctional family, foster care and the years that came after. It takes a great measure of personal insight to write this honestly. It is a very touching tale that contains silliness, seriousness and a woman's determination to make her own future. I highly recommend Out from the Underworld by Heather Siegel and give this memoir five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee! © May 28, 2015 Patricia, RoomWithBooks