Book recommendation: The Fate We Make By Simone Warren is a compelling raw and personal memoir
The Fate We Make - Book One: Heartbreak by Simone Warren is a deeply raw and personal memoir that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride like no other.
While on the outside, Simone Warren may have seemed the very definition of a successful figure – being academically gifted and enjoying a high-powered career working for globally recognized organizations such as BT, Alibaba, and Microsoft – inside she was locked in a never-ending battle to keep herself together.
The roots of this sad situation began while she was a child growing up in Singapore, and the emotional wounds only continued to intensify with repeated tragedies across the following decades.
Her earliest memories were of an unhappy home life where domestic strife between her parents led her to retreat into books.
Excelling at school with grades placing her among the top performing students in the country, a bright future lay ahead, with the prospect of beginning anew in the UK to embark upon a university education.
But this was all thrown into jeopardy when, aged 17, she fell pregnant.
Painfully aware of the shame this would bring on her family, not to mention the impact it would have on her ambitions, she was faced with a heart-breaking dilemma, being forced to decide whether to keep her child and sacrifice her plans or have an abortion.
Making her choice, she moved to London to begin her studies but was haunted by those actions, which she tried to numb through alcohol and ill-judged and disastrous love affairs.
A long-term relationship with a man who was physically and emotionally abusive followed and despite her better judgement they married, with Simone convincing herself that she deserved no better because of the heavy guilt she carried.
The remarkable thing is that while she was undoubtedly a victim – being held hostage by her own past and the manipulative behaviour of her abusive partner – she had been somehow able to maintain a separation between private and public, acing her studies and embarking on a career that continued to go from strength to strength.
It was, however, a front and behind the scenes the depression, alcohol dependency and suicidal thoughts continued their injurious work unimpeded.
The turning point came in 2007 after another abusive meltdown by her husband, this time in front of her and their two children at a birthday party, proved the proverbial straw, finally giving Simone the impetus to leave him.
The next challenge was no less daunting, yet just as necessary: breaking with her Asian cultural conditioning to ‘save face’; that is, remaining secretive about personal issues.
Happily, she found the courage to do so and finding true love with her long-sought “Prince Charming” soon after, she was able to begin healing and, in time, expel the demons that had long plagued her.
The Fate We Make - Book One: Heartbreak is a direct result of this unburdening, and by having the resolve to speak out Simone will hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Written with a literary flourish and penetrating insight that lifts the book far above the usual ‘misery memoir’, it brings together the best of East and West to reframe mindsets, sharing the author’s candid thoughts and life lessons on how to achieve contentment that transcends the external pressures of societal and familial expectations.
While it deals with many important issues relevant to so many – including abortion, rape, domestic abuse, mental health issues, and loss – the main thread that weaves everything together is trauma, both individual and intergenerational (in other words, the trauma that is ‘inherited’ from one’s family).
Simone’s view is that our mindsets, behaviours, and decisions are fundamentally influenced by our heritage, being laid down by the generations that preceded us.
It is for this reason that she explores the lives of her female ancestors in the book, showing how decisions by each came to have a bearing on the lives of those that followed.
Indeed, one of her greatest concerns was ending up in a restrictive and turbulent relationship just like her parents had been, with this influencing her final choice concerning her unplanned pregnancy while still a teenager.
But as her memoir’s title The Fate We Make suggests, her powerful argument is that it is vital to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma. By relating her experiences so vividly she conveys this teaching with gusto – assuring readers that is possible to survive unimaginable adversity and still succeed.
I have to congratulate Simone for overcoming the principle of her family motto, which she describes as “cover up and carry on”, and I greatly admire her for laying bare such pain and suffering for the instruction of others, be they men or women.
As she writes, “Most Singaporeans will do almost anything to ‘save face’. I am not one of them.”
British society is not so different, with many finding it difficult to talk openly about what they have gone through – be it abuse, an abortion, or addiction – so for someone to raise their head above the parapet and call out that it’s OK not to feel OK is to be applauded.
Her book is the first of a trilogy, and as we leave Simone in the final pages of the first we discover something revelatory that will become the focus of what’s to come.
I won’t say any more except that this opens up an exciting new chapter in her life, though one that won’t be without its own obstacles, and represents a major corner that has been turned.
Empathising with her throughout The Fate We Make - Book One: Heartbreak, I cannot wait to read more, with Simone having the narrative gifts of a novelist fused with the reporting skills of a journalist.
The writing is unflinchingly honest, but never devolves into mere sentimentality and self-pity, and because of this speaks loudly and memorably.
It is far from an easy read at times, but it is an important one. In short, this is an inspirational story of survival and in my view a must read.
The Fate We Make – Book One: Heartbreak by Simone Warren is out now on Amazon in paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats priced at £11.99 (paperback/audiobook) and £9.99 respectively. A limited-edition, signed hardcover version of the book is also available from the author’s website, priced £20. For more information, please visit www.thefatewemake.com