" Out of the Bronx is the story of a young woman's struggle to escape and heal from the generational struggle of Greek immigrant parents. As an adult psychologist, she comes to understand her mother's story and to celebrate her own Greek culture. At the close of a beautifully detailed description of a Greek feast, she writes, 'I have filled my empty.' Her story is an important aid to readers who want to better understand the complicated difficulties faced by immigrants."
—Pat Schneider, founder, Amherst Writers & Artists, author of Writing Alone and With Others and How the Light Gets In
"Are you from the Bronx? Have you visited? Neither? Regardless, you’re in luck, because Irene Sardanis transports you to this infamous New-York borough in an entirely engaging, revealing, and personal way. The daughter of two Greek-immigrant parents, Sardanis proclaims, 'My mother’s village was her extended family. At the (Greek) Festival, the Greeks are mine.' It is there that she 'fills her empty,' which is vast yet hidden until the publication of this deeply moving and painfully relatable memoir, Out of the Bronx."
—Valerie Haynes Perry, author of Write the Book You WantBe Your Own Coach
"Irene Sardanis writes with compulsion, ferocity, and immediacy of a wrongly imprisoned person, unexpectedly and surprisingly set free - which, of course, she is: a prisoner of time, place, family, gender, culture, religion and self."
—Mark Greenside, author of I Saw a Man Hit His Wife and I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do)
" Out of the Bronx is a spellbinding tale of how to survive the worst kind of childhood and thrive in later life. Author Irene Sardanis, the daughter of Greek immigrants, takes readers on her healing journey, one that began with a violent mother and often absent, alcoholic father. Richly compassionate, Ms. Sardanis eventually built a career as a therapist and found the love of her life. Along the way, she discovered a hard-won surprise, compassion for her mother and father. The memoir is a haunting reminder of the era when few persons thought of intervening when a young person was abused, and before anyone heard of child protective services. Whether one's parents arrived from another place recently or long ago, Out of the Bronx , offers considerable inspiration for all readers."
—Kristine Mietzner, Contributor, Your Life is a Trip
"Irene Sardanis's writing is as spunky as she is, and we cheer for her as she negotiates her way from being an abused child to a teenager who tries to outwit her mother to an adult who survived two abusive marriages, got her doctorate in psychology, worked as a therapist, and found love. Her insight, understanding, and humor are there in her memoir for the reader to experience. This book could be depressing. Instead, it's an inspiration."
—Karen Lee Pliskin, PhD, anthropologist, author of Silent Boundaries
"Irene Sardanis’s coming of age story is filled with drama, resilience, and hope. She follows the arc from her hardscrabble childhood in a Bronx tenement to breaking away from her difficult family to finding her own voice and becoming a therapist and writer. Her memoir, told with grace, honesty and wit, will encourage and inspire others."
—Elizabeth Fishel, author of Getting to 30
"How we come through our childhood is a mystery. Even with dynamics laid out plainly as Irene Sardanis does in her memoir, her voice is so utterly clear you can see her world. She says, 'I knew I could never tell anyone.' Yet she bravely tells us her story. Read Out of the Bronx and you may be honored with a glimpse of the mystery."
—Clive Matson, author of Hello, Paradise. Paradise, Goodbye. and Let the Crazy Child Write
In this debut memoir, a woman recounts the turbulence of a childhood that left an emptiness she has spent most of a lifetime trying to fill.
The youngest of four children, Sardanis was born in the Bronx in 1933 to poorly matched Greek immigrant parents. Her mother, Maria, was a plain, illiterate peasant girl from a small village on the island of Lesbos. An arranged marriage to her brother's friend Costa sent a terrified Maria off to New York, where she met her husband for the first time: "My mother valued family, religion, and her home. My father liked to drink, talk politics, and party with others." He also spent most of what he earned on himself—fine clothes, "alcohol, and women." They fought constantly. There was never enough money for rent, and food was sometimes scarce. When Sardanis was 5 years old, Costa left Maria and their four children, refusing to let them know where he lived: "Rejected by my father, my mother sought a channel for her misery. She found it in me." Verbal assaults were accompanied by violent physical beatings. The author took to hiding out in libraries, which became her secret passion. Salvation came in her teenage years from a compassionate social worker who provided the emotional support she needed. Eventually, Sardanis married her first husband, Sotiris, and they moved to Los Angeles. This emotional memoir is constructed as a series of essays, each chapter centered on an event or time period. Conversationally articulate prose is filled with unresolved anger and pain but also expresses the author's strong attachment to her Greek heritage, especially when it comes to food (with a few recipes capriciously dropped in) and the warmth of the community. According to the author, the trauma of her early years—including sexual molestation by the father she had once adored—left scars that would impact her life for many years. Of Sotiris, she writes: "I'd married someone cruel like my mother and irresponsible like my father." Not until her third marriage, in her late 40s, would she learn how to trust and love.
A vividly raw portrayal of a brutal upbringing, sprinkled with historical tidbits about Greek immigrant culture.