Days before Felicia Sullivan graduated from college, her mother disappeared; she hasn't been heard from in more than twelve years. It was possibly the last betrayal her mother, a beautiful, volatile, deceitful drug addict, would add to those that built their relationship, which subjected Felicia to a nightmare childhood on the toughest streets of 1980s Brooklyn. Growing up in the close company of dealers, users, and a host of unsavory characters, Felicia became her mother's keeper at a shockingly young age—getting her to the hospital after her overdoses, enduring her cruelty and narcissistic rages, and accepting the abuse or indifference of numerous so-called stepfathers. Years later, damaged and ashamed of her past, Felicia invented a new, brutally hard-partying persona to show to the world: she became her mother.
Affecting, honest, and utterly extraordinary, The Sky Isn't Visible from Here is a book about secrets and forgiveness—the story of a young woman unraveling . . . and then putting her life back together again.
About the Author
Felicia C. Sullivan is a graduate of the Columbia University MFA program, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Best American Essays notable. She is the founder of the critically acclaimed literary journal Small Spiral Notebook, and she lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Table of Contents
Fighting Shoes 3
Of My Kind 15
Where the Boys Go 34
Black Magic 81
The Language of Strangers 101
Pale House 122
Desperate Creatures 132
Points of Entry 154
The Vertical Journey 161
The Burning I Can't Remember 184
The First Daughter 187
Where Bodies Go 209
Atlantic City 230
Before Cocaine 245
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a gritty story of a "for-real" woman, who pulled herself up from a miserable, unsavory childhood, to an educated, and successful young woman, who lost that to the drug infused life like her mother, and then her climb back out. Although I found myself flipping to the cover to confirm this was not a novel, and found it an extemely easy read, it didn't emotionally grab me. In fact, at the end, I was glad the "story" was over. Part of me feels that I am reading a life that is going to fall apart with good sales of the book, going right up the author's nose. Maybe not, but I'm not convinced or hopeful as I close the book.
I bought this book after being drawn to its title. I read the inside cover and thought it would really be a page turner but I found it to be lacking. I really was pulling for the author and hoping it would get better but it falls flat.
This is not an easy to read autobiography though extremely well written and poignant, as Felicia C. Sullivan bares her soul in a cautionary memoir. She lived poor in Brooklyn with her mom Rosina working in a series of diners while always being fired for stealing and through one boyfriend after another as Rosina stole to pay for her cocaine habit and changed boyfriends when they tired of her. Felicia did not fit in any of the zillion neighborhoods mom moved them to as her skin was to white. She escaped to Fordham University and just before she graduated mom vanished. However, the child is not far from the parent as Felicia fell into similar patterns with drink and cocaine even while succeeding in finance behind the facade of a fake history; that is until her behavior led to her firing. This is an excellent autobiography in which the author peels away the masks to reveal her most inner essence for audiences to see how far she has come from her nuclear bomb roots and how "habitually" easy it is for a person to fall back into self destructive behavior. Harriet Klausner
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 cocaine binge; a wedding at City Hall to which I was not invited; the months she locked herself behind her bedroom door and emerged only to buy cigarettes. I'd spent the greater part of my life feeling abandoned by my mother. Yet she'd always return -- blazing into the kitchen to cook up a holiday feast for ten. . .back from her drug dealer on Brooklyn's Ninth Avenue. "On the morning of my graduation, though, dressed in a black gown, I walked up the promenade to receive my diploma. . . . My mother's face didn't appear among the proud, applauding parents. I knew then that I'd never see her again. . . ." Okay. Issues with the mother. This I can deal with. This I can top, actually. And it all takes place in New York (Brooklyn, Manhattan), where everything is ridiculously scattered and fast. New Yorkers scream and zoom about under the ground like crazed Formicidae, eating things I cannot pronounce -- while I am languidly, safely ensconced in the South, sipping lemonade on a porch. I've seen Sullivan on Internet videos -- a beautiful, brilliant young woman speaking four times faster than I do. But then the train speeds up. And now the sudden horror when you realize the train is out of control, zinging faster down the rails, my God. In the railroad car you're riding in, there is, figuratively, a camera. Sullivan eases you behind the camera, which records every single thing -- now and in the past. The camera is outfitted with x-ray vision into Sullivan's heart and soul, as the train plunges down the track. . . . Her mother would subject her to severe mental cruelty, and then rush to protect her. Felicia was emotionally abused, but she was not, at least not always, a neglected child. She was loved, to the extent that her mother was capable of loving a child, but the love was doled out in scraps and shards. They were poor and moved constantly. Sullivan and her mother reversed roles, with Sullivan taking charge when her mother, high on cocaine, passed out. There was a stream of boyfriends (men in her mother's life); blessedly, one of the good ones became almost a real father to her. Cocaine became Sullivan's nemesis and savior: "'So what was it [cocaine] like?' Emily asks. . . . We hear jackhammers and power drills outside, shaking bodies handling great machines, cracking the pavement, spilling hot tar. 'It's like Broadway up my nose,' I say." Read this stunning memoir. Sullivan's writing is superb, all grace and grit, and you will not find many more accomplished wordsmiths writing today. --Arlene Sanders